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Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Facebook offers first-ever hate speech estimate, India requests leaped in 2020

Facebook focused on the prevalence of hate speech on the platform as part of its report. It saw a total of 35,560 requests from law enforcement officials in India for the first half of 2020 (Jan to June), and it complied with nearly 50 percent of these requests.

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi | Updated: November 21, 2020 6:14:31 pm
Facebook, Facebook hate speech, Facebook hate speech India, Facebook 2020 transparency report, Facebook hate speech IndiaFacebook app is seen in this photo. Facebook has revealed the instances of hate speech on its platform as part of its report. (Image source: Bloomberg)

Facebook saw a total of 35,560 requests from law enforcement officials in India for the first half of 2020 (Jan to June), and it complied with nearly 50 percent of these requests. This is also the first time that Facebook focused on the prevalence of hate speech on the platform as part of its report. The social media company said that hate speech prevalence was 0.10 percent – 0.11 percent on the platform or 10 to 11 views of hate speech for every 10,000 views of content.

Facebook hate speech

Facebook has been facing severe criticism over its handling and labelling of hate speech on the platform. The company came under scanner over its handling of hate speech in India after a Wall Street Journal report said that Facebook’s Ankhi Das, its top public policy executive at the time in India, had opposed applying hate-speech rules to BJP politicians. Das has since quit as Facebook’s public policy head.

Facebook executives cited business reasons as a reason for not applying “hate-speech rules” to four individuals and groups linked with BJP. After the report broke, Facebook had defended itself and said it was a ‘non-partisan’ platform.

In a new post, Guy Rosen, VP of Integrity at Facebook wrote, “Due to our investments in AI, we have been able to remove more hate speech and find more of it proactively before users report it to us. Our enforcement metrics this quarter, including how much hate speech content we found proactively and how much content we took action on, indicate that we’re making progress catching harmful content.”

Facebook claimed that “proactive detection rates” for violating content are up and it credits “improvements in AI” and “expanding..detection technologies to more languages.”

According to the stats, Facebook says it took action on 22.1 million pieces of hate speech content, which included 19.2 million pieces of violent and graphic content, 12.4 million pieces of child nudity and sexual exploitation content. There were 3.5 million pieces of bullying and harassment content.

On Instagram, the stats were 6.5 million pieces of hate speech content, 4.1 million pieces of violent and graphic content, one million pieces of child nudity and sexual exploitation content and 2.6 million pieces of bullying and harassment content and 1.3 million pieces of suicide and self-injury. But based on Facebook’s number such content also continues to grow on both platforms, compared to the earlier quarter.

India numbers

India had the second highest number of total requests from Facebook, after the United States. Brazil was number three in the number of total requests. This was a significant jump from the second half of 2019 (July to December) where it had received a total of 26,698 requests.

Facebook says it complied with 50 percent of the requests in the first half of 2020 as compared to 57 percent in the earlier period. These revelations were made as part of Facebook’s biannual transparency report. In India, Facebook got 4,132 preservation requests, and around 9,406 accounts were preserved. In these requests, Facebook preserves or saving “information” around an account or user “but will not disclose any of the preserved records” unless they get a “formal and valid legal process.”

Facebook says it had a total number of 35,560 requests in India in the first half of 2020 and it complied with 50 percent of these. There were around 2,186 emergency requests, and it complied with 52 percent of these. It also saw authorities request for information around 57,294 accounts.

Regarding content restriction, Facebook restricted access to 681 items in response to directions from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology for violating Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000. Nine of these were restricted temporarily. Facebook also restricted access to 143 items in response to private reports of defamation. On Instagram, the company restricted 139 accounts and 39 media.

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