Skip to Content
Silicon Valley

Facebook says it’s getting better at weeding out child sex abuse images

November 14, 2019
Facebook
Facebook
FacebookAP

The news: Facebook has revealed a huge jump in images of child sex abuse uploaded to the website: 11.6 million pieces of content from July to September this year, versus 6.9 million from April to June. However, it proactively detects and removes over 99% of all such images, and the large increase is due to better detection, it said in its latest transparency report.

The fake problem: The report both illustrates the vast scale of the task Facebook faces in acting on its own policies against hate speech, harassment, and child abuse and how sophisticated Facebook’s automated systems have become at picking up this sort of content. However, plenty still slips through the net. Facebook has revealed the scale of the problem of fake accounts: it removed 3.2 billion from its service from April to September this year, and estimates that about 5% of its 2.45 billion user accounts are fake. These fake profiles are used for everything from political manipulation to lucrative scams.

Hand it over: The report also shows a spike in requests for Facebook user data from governments around the world, with the US leading the pack, followed by India, the UK, Germany, and France. There were 50,741 demands for user data from US authorities in the last quarter, with 88% of them resulting in data being handed over. Two-thirds came with a gag order, meaning the subject cannot find out if the data has been accessed.

Instagram joins the party: This is the first time Facebook has reported content enforcement figures for Instagram, which it owns. It shows Instagram lags significantly behind at detecting banned content. For example, while all but 3% of suicide and self-harm content is taken down from Facebook without reports from users, Instagram users are still responsible for reporting 21% of the same type of content before it is removed. Instagram’s head of product, Vishal Shah, told reporters this reflects the fact Facebook has better-developed automated systems.

Sign up here to our daily newsletter The Download to get your dose of the latest must-read news from the world of emerging tech.

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.

open sourcing language models concept
open sourcing language models concept

Meta has built a massive new language AI—and it’s giving it away for free

Facebook’s parent company is inviting researchers to pore over and pick apart the flaws in its version of GPT-3

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.

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.