AI Has Started Cleaning Up Facebook, but Can It Finish?

WIRED | 12/18/2018 | Tom Simonite
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In the early hours of Aug. 25, 2017, a ragged insurgent group from Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority attacked military outposts in the country’s northwest, killing 12 people. Security forces quickly retaliated with a campaign of village burning and mass killings that lasted weeks. As Rohingya died by the thousands, Myanmar’s military leaders took to Facebook.

A post from the commander-in-chief pledged to solve “the Bengali problem,” using a pejorative for Rohingya in Myanmar. Another general wrote to praise the “brilliant effort to restore regional peace,” observing that “race cannot be swallowed by the ground but only by another race.” A UN fact-finding report on the violence later cited the commander-in-chief’s post as suggestive of genocide, and noted the history of Facebook posts whipping up hate against Rohingya in Myanmar. The mission’s chair told journalists that the site had played a “determining role” in the crisis.

US - Capitol - April - Senator - Jeff

In the US Capitol in April, Senator Jeff Flake asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg how his company might have avoided that role. The impassive then-33-year-old billionaire noted that he had hired more Burmese speakers. Then he expounded on a favorite topic—artificial intelligence. “Over the long term, building AI tools is going to be the scalable way to identify and root out most of this harmful content,” he said. During two days of congressional hearings, Zuckerberg mentioned AI more than 30 times. It would, he told lawmakers, fight fake news, prevent ads that discriminate on the grounds of race or gender, and hobble terrorist propaganda.

Facebook has faced a dizzying series of accusations and scandals over the past year. They include enabling Russian election interference and employment discrimination, in addition to being accessory to genocide in Myanmar. Monday, a Senate report said Russia's activities on Facebook properties were far greater than previously known, and suggested the the company misled...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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