Skip to Content
Silicon Valley

How Facebook uses machine learning to fight ISIS and Al-Qaeda propaganda

November 12, 2018

Facebook claims to have proactively found and removed 99% of terrorist-related content on the site for the past three quarters. It’s given some insight into its processes in a blog post.

Some statistics: First it’s important to note that when it says “terrorism,” Facebook is referring only to ISIS and Al-Qaeda. On average, the firms claims it now removes terrorist content less than two minutes after it’s posted, versus the average of 14 hours it took earlier this year. Facebook took action on 9.4 million pieces of content in Q2 2018, a figure that declined to 3 million in Q3 2018, thanks to its efforts the quarter before, it said.

Detection systems: Facebook has launched a new machine-learning tool that assesses whether posts signal support for ISIS or Al-Qaeda. It produces a score indicating how likely it is that it violates their counterterrorism policies, with the ones that receive higher scores passed to its human reviewers to assess. For the highest-scored cases, posts are removed automatically. In the “rare instances” employees find the possibility of imminent harm, Facebook immediately informs law enforcement, it said.

Release the bots: Clearly, Facebook is keen to look tough on terrorism. And as always, it is relying almost exclusively on algorithms to do that. That makes a lot of sense from its point of view, as humans could never scan that much information that quickly (and they’re expensive). But it is yet another reminder of Facebook’s role as judge, jury, and executioner on the information it lets us see.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

transplant surgery
transplant surgery

The gene-edited pig heart given to a dying patient was infected with a pig virus

The first transplant of a genetically-modified pig heart into a human may have ended prematurely because of a well-known—and avoidable—risk.

Muhammad bin Salman funds anti-aging research
Muhammad bin Salman funds anti-aging research

Saudi Arabia plans to spend $1 billion a year discovering treatments to slow aging

The oil kingdom fears that its population is aging at an accelerated rate and hopes to test drugs to reverse the problem. First up might be the diabetes drug metformin.

Yann LeCun
Yann LeCun

Yann LeCun has a bold new vision for the future of AI

One of the godfathers of deep learning pulls together old ideas to sketch out a fresh path for AI, but raises as many questions as he answers.

images created by Google Imagen
images created by Google Imagen

The dark secret behind those cute AI-generated animal images

Google Brain has revealed its own image-making AI, called Imagen. But don't expect to see anything that isn't wholesome.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.