outside the United States, moderation loopholes in dozens of languages

By Alexandre Piquard

Published on October 25, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. – Updated on October 25, 2021 at 2:48 p.m.

Can an Afghan user report hateful content on Facebook to have it removed? The task is not easy, because the interface is very poorly translated into Pashto and Dari, two important languages ​​among the thirty spoken in the country, regrets an employee of the social network. “In a country like Afghanistan, where the share of the population that understands English is extremely small, ensuring that the system is flawless in translation, at a minimum, seems of crucial importance”he writes, especially since Facebook is “the first social network in the country”.

Excerpt from one of the anonymized documents sent to the US Congress highlighting the failures of Facebook moderation in Afghanistan.

This excerpt is from a January 2021 note on Afghanistan. This is one of thousands of pages of internal Facebook documents, recovered by Frances Haugen, a former employee who left Facebook in May 2021, and transmitted by a US parliamentary source to several media, including The world. These files are often presentations, reports and studies conducted by members of Facebook’s “integrity” team, responsible for ensuring the security of the platform.

The “Facebook Files”, a dive into the workings of the “likes” machine

The “Facebook Files” are several hundred internal Facebook documents copied by Frances Haugen, an algorithm specialist, when she was an employee of the social network. They were provided to the US regulator and Congress, then forwarded by a US parliamentary source to several media, redacted the personal information of Facebook employees. In Europe, these media are, in addition to The worldthe german daily Suddeutsche Zeitungthe WDR and NDR television channels, the Tamedia Group, Thing, Berlingske and OCCRP.

They show that Facebook is devoting more resources to limiting its harmful effects in the West, to the detriment of the rest of the world. They certify that these effects are known internally but that the warning signals are not always taken into account. Finally, they prove that Facebook’s algorithms have sometimes become so complex that they seem to escape their own authors. Find all our articles by clicking here.

These documents offer a rare view inside the machine of the world’s leading social network, with 2.9 billion users, 90% of whom are outside the United States. These files present certain flaws of the American giant, one of the main of which concerns its international activities: in dozens of languages ​​and countries sometimes at risk or in the grip of conflicts, the protection and moderation systems, both human and automatic, are not sufficient.

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“Today, Facebook does not treat the United States and the rest of the world as equals, denounces Frances Haugen. The company is hypocritical because it does not invest in adequate protection mechanisms for all users who do not speak English. » “The most fragile countries on the least secure version of Facebook”adds whistleblower.

Chance of the calendar, this observation was extended by the brand new Nobel Peace Prize winner, Maria Ressa. “Facebook prioritizes the dissemination of lies mixed with anger and hatred rather than the facts”, revealed on October 9 the Filipino journalist. These declarations are added to a first series of articles of the the wall street journal on the shortcomings of Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram, which plunged the company into its worst political crisis since 2018, when it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica, provider of Donald Trump’s campaign, had been able to access millions of profiles .

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