Facebook will hire 3,000 more people over the next year to speed up the removal of videos showing murder, suicide and other violent acts, in its most dramatic move yet to combat the biggest threat to its valuable public image.
The hiring spree, announced by Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, comes after users were shocked by two video posts in April showing killings in Thailand and the United States.
The move is an acknowledgement by Facebook that it needs more than its recent focus on automated software to identify and remove such material.
Artificial intelligence techniques would take “a period of years … to really reach the quality level that we want,” Zuckerberg said.
“Given the importance of this, how quickly live video is growing, we wanted to make sure that we double down on this and make sure that we provide as safe of an experience for the community as we can,” he said.
Facebook Live has made the situation worse
The problem has become more pressing since the introduction last year of Facebook Live, a service that allows any of Facebook’s 1.9 billion monthly users to broadcast video, which has been marred by some violent scenes.
Some violence on Facebook is inevitable given its size, researchers say, but the company has been attacked for its slow response.
UK lawmakers this week accused social media companies including Facebook of doing a “shameful” job removing child abuse and other potentially illegal material.
In Germany, the company has been under pressure to be quicker and more accurate in removing illegal hate speech and to clamp down on so-called fake news.
German lawmakers have threatened fines if the company cannot remove at least 70 percent of offending posts within 24 hours.
A series of cases have marred Facebook’s image
Zuckerberg, the company’s co-founder, said in a Facebook post the workers will be in addition to the 4,500 people who already review posts that may violate its terms of service. Facebook has 17,000 employees overall, not including contractors.
Last week, a father in Thailand broadcast himself killing his daughter on Facebook Live, police said. After more than a day, and 370,000 views, Facebook removed the video. A video of a man shooting and killing another in Cleveland last month also shocked viewers.
Zuckerberg said the company would do better: “We’re working to make these videos easier to report so we can take the right action sooner – whether that’s responding quickly when someone needs help or taking a post down.”
The world’s largest social network has been turning to artificial intelligence to try to automate the process of finding pornography, violence and other potentially offensive material. In March, the company said it planned to use such technology to help spot users with suicidal tendencies and get them assistance.
However, Facebook still relies largely on its users to report problematic material. It receives millions of reports from users each week, and like other large Silicon Valley companies, it relies on thousands of human monitors to review the reports.