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Facebook’s Focus on AI to Curb Terrorism Seems to be Working


Facebook Inc FB in its war on terrorism has been deploying artificial intelligence (AI) to curb extremist activities on its platform.

Yesterday, in a lengthy blog post, the company’s head of Global Policy Management, Monika Bickert and head of Counterterrorism Policy, Brian Fishman said that AI was able to filter out 99% of posts related to ISIS and Al Qaeda even before some users flagged the content.

For some time now, Facebook and a host of other social media companies have been under government and law enforcement agencies’ scrutiny for their inability to contain the spread of terrorism.

Facebook, Inc. Revenue (TTM)

Facebook, Inc. Revenue (TTM) | Facebook, Inc. Quote

These platforms have been highly misused to spread terrorist propaganda and world leaders like British PM Theresa May came down heavily on these companies. She also urged governments across the globe to impose sanctions/levy fines on companies that fail to curb extremist activities on their platforms. Reportedly, Germany has already passed a law whereby a company is expected to face a penalty of $57 million for inability to remove any offensive/hateful content.

Facebook is also under fire for dissemination of fake news that allegedly influenced U.S presidential elections. A few days back, the social media giant, said that Russia may have tried to meddle (though the extent is not known to be significant) with the Brexit vote too.

This marks a U-turn from the company’s earlier stance of “no-evidence” of any Kremlin interference.

The company will testify to the EU regulators next week. In the United States, Facebook recently testified to the Congress regarding the alleged misuse of its platform by Russian factors.

Coming back to AI, Facebook added that it has been able to take down 83% of the content within sixty minutes of upload by deploying techniques like photo/video matching and text-based machine learning.

Facebook also emphasized that it is not solely reliant on AI technology to root out extremism. The company has formed a dedicated team specializing in countering terrorism over the past few months. This team comprises academic experts on counterterrorism, ex-prosecutors and law enforcement agents as well as engineers.

Also, the company said that it is seeking the cooperation of governments, researchers and the society in addition to fellow tech companies to contain the spread of terrorism from one platform to another.

A few months back, Facebook, along with Twitter Inc. TWTR, Microsoft Corp. MSFT and Alphabet Inc. GOOGL, collaborated to form Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) to curb extremist activities on social media platforms.

The companies said that all of them were getting together to identify the images, video and other media that has radical content, and create a shared database for the same. Facebook said that it has already added a few more partners and was looking to add more.

However, Bickert added that containing extremism on the platform by usage of AI isn’t as simple as “flipping a switch”. She stated that, “A system designed to find content from one terrorist group may not work for another because of language and stylistic differences in their propaganda. Because of these limitations, we focus our most innovative techniques on the terrorist groups that pose the biggest threat globally, in the real-world and online.”

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At present, Facebook carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

In the past year, Facebook has vastly outperformed the broader market. Shares of Facebook have gained more than 54% compared with the industry’s gain of 26.5%.

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