Has Facebook Stopped Trying?

Facebook has been overrun with AI spam and scams. Experts say Facebook has stopped asking them for help.
Has Facebook Stopped Trying?
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In spring, 2018, Mark Zuckerberg invited more than a dozen professors and academics to a series of dinners at his home to discuss how Facebook could better keep its platforms safe from election disinformation, violent content, child sexual abuse material, and hate speech. Alongside these secret meetings, Facebook was regularly making pronouncements that it was spending hundreds of millions of dollars and hiring thousands of human content moderators to make its platforms safer. After Facebook was widely blamed for the rise of “fake news” that supposedly helped Trump win the 2016 election, Facebook repeatedly brought in reporters to examine its election “war room” and explained what it was doing to police its platform, which famously included a new “Oversight Board,” a sort of Supreme Court for hard Facebook decisions.

At the time, Joseph and I published a deep dive into how Facebook does content moderation, an astoundingly difficult task considering the scale of Facebook’s userbase, the differing countries and legal regimes it operates under, and the dizzying array of borderline cases it would need to make policies for and litigate against. As part of that article, I went to Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters and had a series of on-the-record interviews with policymakers and executives about how important content moderation is and how seriously the company takes it. In 2018, Zuckerberg published a manifesto stating that “the most important thing we at Facebook can do is develop the social infrastructure to build a global community,” and that one of the most important aspects of this would be to “build a safe community that prevents harm [and] helps during crisis” and to build an “informed community” and an “inclusive community.”

Several years later, Facebook has been overrun by AI-generated spam and outright scams. Many of the “people” engaging with this content are bots who themselves spam the platform. Porn and nonconsensual imagery is easy to find on Facebook and Instagram. We have reported endlessly on the proliferation of paid advertisements for drugs, stolen credit cards, hacked accounts, and ads for electricians and roofers who appear to be soliciting potential customers with sex work. Its own verified influencers have their bodies regularly stolen by “AI influencers” in the service of promoting OnlyFans pages also full of stolen content. 

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