Report: Facebook Used ‘Experimental’ Audio Tech to Detect Videos of New Zealand Mosque Shooting

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg declined an invitation to attend the hearing, sending a vice president named Richard Allan in his place
Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

Facebook reportedly used experimental audio technology to find and remove videos of the New Zealand mosque shooting that the company’s A.I. missed.

Business Insider reports that Facebook used new experimental audio technology to find and delete videos of the recent Christchurch mosque shooting that the site’s A.I. failed to detect. The company stated in a recently published blog post that it “employed audio matching technology to detect videos [of the shooting] which had visually changed beyond our systems’ ability to recognize automatically but which had the same soundtrack.”

The blog did not go into detail about how the technology works but it appears that the audio recognition software is better at catching modified versions of videos than the site’s A.I. is. Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of integrity, commented on the software stating: “Many people have asked why artificial intelligence didn’t detect the video from last week’s attack automatically. A.I. has made massive progress over the years and in many areas, which has enabled us to proactively detect the vast majority of the content we remove. But it’s not perfect.”

Rosen added: “A.I. systems are based on ‘training data’, which means you need many thousands of examples of content in order to train a system that can detect certain types of text, imagery or video. This approach has worked very well for areas such as nudity, terrorist propaganda and also graphic violence where there is a large number of examples we can use to train our systems. However, this particular video did not trigger our automatic detection systems. To achieve that we will need to provide our systems with large volumes of data of this specific kind of content, something which is difficult as these events are thankfully rare.”

Rosen said that one issue the company has faced with its A.I. system finds it hard to distinguish between video game footage and real life: “Another challenge is to automatically discern this content from visually similar, innocuous content — for example if thousands of videos from live-streamed video games are flagged by our systems, our reviewers could miss the important real-world videos where we could alert first responders to get help on the ground.”

Facebook is rushing to act in the wake of the Christchurch mosque shooting following criticism from New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden. We cannot simply sit back and accept that these platforms just exist and what is said is not the responsibility of the place where they are published,” Arden said in a speech to Parliament on Tuesday. “They are the publisher not just the postman.”

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or email him at lnolan@breitbart.com

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