October 25 2021: Facebook’s policies particularly with respect to India-related content, were again in the spotlight yesterday, with fresh revelations in the New York Times and the Associated Press.
These centre around internal documents obtained by these two agencies which “ show a struggle with misinformation, hate speech and celebrations of violence in the country, the company’s biggest market”. (India).
“In February 2019, a Facebook researcher created an account to look into what the social media website will look like for a person living in Kerala.”
“For the next three weeks, the account operated by a simple rule: Follow all the recommendations generated by Facebook’s algorithms to join groups, watch videos and explore new pages on the site. The result was an inundation of hate speech, misinformation and celebrations of violence, which were documented in an internal Facebook report published later that month.”
In a separate report produced after the 2019 national elections*, Facebook found that “over 40 per cent of top views, or impressions, in the Indian state of West Bengal were fake/inauthentic”, the newspaper reported. One inauthentic account had amassed more than 30 million impressions.
The report and related documents are part of the mass of documents released by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen recently. Earlier report
A facebook spokesperson is quoted as saying : “We’ve invested significantly in technology to find hate speech in various languages, including Hindi and Bengali. As a result, we’ve reduced the amount of hate speech that people see by half this year. Today, it’s down to 0.05 percent.”
* Adversarial Harmful Networks: India Case Study
New York Times