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Facebook bug may have exposed moderators to extremists

18 June, 2017, 10:57 | Author: Nadine Todd
  • A Facebook Bug have Revealed Online moderators to activist

Forty workers in Facebook's Dublin offices who focused on removing terrorist content from the social network had their profile pages and names shown to administrators of Facebook groups where this content was posted.

Facebook's security team then led an investigation which prompted it to discover that the personal profiles of the moderators had been exposed, then the team later also found out that the profiles were delivered as notifications to the terrorist groups.

In October, Facebook added an activity log to Groups, visible to the other Groups admins. About six of them ranked as high-risk, as could their profiles viewed by potential terrorists.

The moderator said he went into hiding after learning that seven members of a pro-Hamas and ISIS-sympathizing group he banned from Facebook viewed his profile.

The moderator also told The Guardian that Facebook's moderation system requires users to log in using their personal Facebook profile, an incredibly shortsighted dog-fooding technique for people working on countering terrorism and extremism.

Facebook has shared further details of a new AI system being developed to target terrorist propaganda and content. He returned only after "running out of money", and is now seeking compensation from both Facebook and the contractor who hired him (contractors generally get fewer protections than full-time employees, at Facebook or elsewhere), describing a cavalier attitude at Facebook toward his work, which routinely involved watching videos of terrorist acts like stonings and beheadings. In May, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said the company would hire 3,000 more staffers to review content in an attempt to curb violent or sensitive videos.

In a statement from Facebook, the company said it had implemented alterations in its software to "better detect and prevent these types of issues from occurring".

This all started after Facebook moderators started receiving friend requests from people affiliated with the terrorist organisations they were scrutinising.

The moderator, an Iraqi-born Irish citizen contracted to work for Facebook by staffing firm Cpl Recruitment, spoke to The Guardian about his experience.

In March, a German government minister said companies like Facebook and Google could face up to $53 million in fines for failing to do enough to curtail hate speech.

Facebook immediately adjusted its policies to prevent such a bug from happening again.

This breach comes on the heels of the company's announcement of using artificial intelligence to keep terrorist content off Facebook and help it combat terrorists' use of its platform. In an official statement, a spokesperson said the safety of their employees was a priority and the issue was fixed as soon as they learned about it.

In most cases, Facebook only removes objectionable material if users first report it. Facebook told The Guardian that it applied changes to the software to avoid similar mishaps in the future.


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