Facebook’s machine learning removed 8.7 million child exploitation posts

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Facebook has come under the spotlight several times of the past few years for the policing of content on its platform, but one area where it appears to be making inroads is in tackling child exploitation posts.

According to a recent blog post, Facebook says it has removed 8.7 million child exploitation posts over the past year.

Using tech for good

This thanks to new AI and machine learning tools that were specifically developed and added to the social media platform by the company.

Facebook also adds that it was able to remove 99 percent of the posts before any user had flagged or notified the organisation of its posting.

“In addition to photo-matching technology, we’re using artificial intelligence and machine learning to proactively detect child nudity and previously unknown child exploitative content when it’s uploaded,” explains Facebook’s global head of safety, Antigone Davis.

“We’re using this and other technology to more quickly identify this content and report it to NCMEC, and also to find accounts that engage in potentially inappropriate interactions with children on Facebook so that we can remove them and prevent additional harm,” Davis adds.

More work to do

While Facebook is trying to do its best in monitoring such content on its platform, the system is not perfect, with TechCrunch noting that some parents have said innocuous images of their children have been removed from the platform.

One of the more high-profile examples of this was the removal of the iconic 1972 photo of Phan Thi Kim Phuc (also known as Napalm girl), which features a naked girl fleeing an attack of her South Vietnamese village.

Added to this are a number of disturbing videos featuring sexual assault that have appeared on Facebook Live, showing that the company still has some ways to go before child exploitation is fully eradicated from the website.

Whether AI and machine learning can in fact create such a safe online environment remains to be seen, but it is at least pleasing to see that Facebook is trying to do its part with the help of technology.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.