Content On Bullying, Harassment Seen Between 14 And 15 Times Per 10,000 Views On Site, Says Facebook

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Content On Bullying, Harassment Seen Between 14 And 15 Times Per 10,000 Views On Site, Says Facebook

Tech giant Facebook for the first time disclosed the prevalence of bullying and harassment on its platform. It added that such content was seen between 5 and 6 times per 10,000 views of content on Instagram.

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Tech giant Facebook on November 9, for the first time, disclosed the prevalence of bullying and harassment on its platform. It said such content was seen between 14 and 15 times per every 10,000 views on the site in the third quarter.

The company, which recently changed its name to Meta, added in its quarterly content moderation report that bullying and harassment content was seen between 5 and 6 times per 10,000 views of content on Instagram, which is its subsidiary.

The company is in the eye of a storm after a former employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked internal documents that include research and discussions about Instagram's effects on the mental health of teens and on whether Facebook's platforms stoke divisions, reported Reuters.

Documents Being Used To Paint False Picture

Haugen claimed that the highlight how the company picked profits over user safety. Facebook, however, disputed this and said the documents were being used to paint a "false picture." Facebook stated that its bullying and harassment numbers only noted instances where the company did not need additional information, such as a report from a user, to decide if the content broke its rules.

They said that of the 9.2 million pieces of content the company removed from Facebook for breaking its bullying and harassment rules, it found 59.4 per cent proactively.

Profits Over User Safety?

The company has failed to step in earlier as well. In 2019, it launched a massive effort to combat the use of its platforms for human trafficking. Employees of the tech giant searched Facebook and Instagram for keywords and hashtags that promoted domestic servitude in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Over the next few weeks, the company took down 129,191 pieces of content, disabled more than 1,000 accounts, tightened its policies, and added new ways to detect this kind of behaviour. However, the action came a little late. In fact, a group of Facebook researchers focused on the Middle East and North Africa had found numerous Instagram profiles being used as advertisements for trafficked domestic servants as early as March 2018.

The company did not take them down because Facebook's policies "did not acknowledge the violation", reported The Atlantic. Eighteen months later, an undercover BBC investigation exposed a booming online black market in the illegal buying and selling of domestic workers. In response, Facebook banned one hashtag and took down around 700 Instagram profiles. But according to another internal report, "domestic servitude content remained on the platform."

Its Role In The 2020 Riots

Following this, Apple threatened to pull Facebook and Instagram from its App Store because of the BBC report. In India, it has been accused of facilitating extremist anti-Muslim rhetoric. According to a report by Washington Post, researchers have documented the Bharatiya Janata Party using social media, including Facebook and WhatsApp, to run propaganda campaigns against Muslims.

Members from the Next Billion Network, a collective of civil society actors working on technology-related harms in the global south, warned the company's officials in the United States that unchecked hate speech on the platform could trigger large-scale communal violence in India, in multiple meetings held between 2018 and 2019. However, their warnings fell on deaf ears, it would seem like.

Despite Facebook's assurances, it would step up moderation efforts, when riots broke out in Delhi last year, calls to violence against Muslims remained on the site, despite being flagged, according to the group. Gruesome images, claiming falsely to depict violence perpetrated by Muslims during the riots, were found by the newspaper. Facebook labelled them with a fact check, but they remained on the site. The violence in the national capital claimed the lives of at least 53 people.

India is an attractive market for Facebook, given its large population and its emergence as an economic powerhouse. Low-cost smartphones and cheap data plans have led to a telecom revolution, with millions of Indian users coming online for the first time every year. Facebook has made great efforts to capture these customers. There are about 410 million Facebook users in India, according to the Government.

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