Facebook disputes claims they retain extreme content for money

Lawrence Kim
July 19, 2018

In a separate letter written to Nicole Kleeman, Executive Producer at Glasgow-based Firecrest Films who raised the issues with Facebook, Bickert said a review is going on regarding training practices across Facebook contractor teams, including the Dublin-based CPL Resources, the largest moderation centre for United Kingdom content.

The documentary, for Channel 4's Dispatches, was due to screen on Tuesday in the United Kingdom and comes as the social network is under intense political pressure across Europe over its handling of personal data and its efforts to stop the spread of harmful content.

In the documentary, a moderator tells the Dispatches reporter that Britain First's pages were left up, even though they repeatedly broke Facebook's rules, because "they have a lot of followers so they're generating a lot of revenue for Facebook".

A moderator filmed in the programme said: "If you start censoring too much then people stop using the platform". It's all about making money at the end of the day'.

"Moderators are told they can only take action to close down the account of a child who clearly looks 10-years-old if the child actually admits in posts they are under-aged", The Telegraph reported, citing the documentary.

Channel 4 spoke to Roger McNamee, an early Facebook investor who has become a critic of the company over issues including the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Facebook
The video of a grown man beating a small boy. Channel 4/Firecrest Films

According to the documentary, Facebook content moderators are trained to ignore some forms of hate speech on the site.

At one point, the undercover reporter was also told to refrain from deleting a video showing a man punching a toddler, and instead simply mark it as disturbing.

The journalist undertook CPL Resources' training, where new staff are brought up to speed with Facebook's community standards, and set to work reviewing content, including graphic violence, child abuse, and hate speech.

In the exposé which aired on Tuesday night, it was revealed that moderators for the online platform were instructed not to remove extreme, abusive or graphic content from the platform even when it violated the company's guidelines.

"Based on the revelations from Channel 4 Dispatches documentary last evening, we have chose to suspend our partnership with Facebook until further notice", said Lorraine Higgins, CEO of Retail Excellence. "We are providing additional training and are working to understand exactly what happened so we can rectify it". "For example, we immediately required all trainers in Dublin to do a re-training session -and are preparing to do the same globally". He also claimed that Facebook had taken down the video of the young child being beaten, but Channel 4's reporter noted that it "is still on Facebook right now".

In its defense, Facebook said its doubling the number of employees devoted to "safety and security" to 20,000 this year. "It has been suggested that turning a blind eye to bad content is in our commercial interests". This is not true... "Creating a safe environment where people from all over the world can share and connect is core to Facebook's long-term success". "Nor do advertisers want their brands associated with disturbing or problematic content".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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