Facebook transparency report still ignores company’s biggest problems

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One other day, one other cease on Fb’s unending apology tour. 

On Tuesday, that takes the type of the social community’s newest transparency report, which, for the primary time, consists of stats on the huge quantities of content material the corporate removes for violating its neighborhood requirements.

Prior to now, the report’s centered on censorship, monitoring Fb’s response to takedown requests from authorities officers. However, content material eliminated on the behest of native governments represents solely a tiny fraction of the whole content material Fb removes yearly. 

That is as a result of the overwhelming majority of the content material Fb takes down is the stuff that violates its “neighborhood requirements,” the social community’s guidelines that prohibit hate speech, graphic violence, nudity and all the opposite stuff Fb does not need you to see.

And the transparency report makes clear simply how a lot of that stuff is making its means via Fb regularly. 

For instance, the corporate says it eliminated a staggering 583 million pretend account throughout the first quarter of 2018. It “took motion on” 837 million items of spam, which Fb defines as “inauthentic exercise that is automated or coordinated.” 

However although the numbers shed some gentle on the dimensions of the battle Fb’s combating, the report does not inform us a lot about a number of the most necessary questions the corporate’s at present grappling with.

There is no point out of the corporate’s efforts to higher safeguard person knowledge, for one. Although the corporate’s made some efforts within the weeks following the Cambridge Analytica disclosures to inform customers whose knowledge was misused and establish different builders who could have misused knowledge, there is not any point out of it within the report.  

Equally, there’s little point out of misinformation or pretend information, one other thorny difficulty Fb’s struggled to fight. Although the report’s sidebar hyperlinks to a assist middle article and a put up from Mark Zuckerberg on the subject, the report itself does not add any new data in anyway. 

What number of advert farms, which Fb says it is attempting to disrupt, have been detected? How a lot clickbait has been recognized and demoted in Information Feed? 

The report additionally makes no mentions of the hundreds of thousands of Fb customers who had been uncovered to Russia-linked propaganda on the community. (In Congressional testimony, the corporate estimated the quantity may very well be as excessive as 126 million for Fb. It by no means supplied an analogous estimate for Instagram.)

Granted these aren’t straightforward metrics to quantify, significantly at Fb’s scale. However, if the corporate actually needs us to start out taking its efforts to extend transparency critically, then it must do greater than merely share the numbers that appear price bragging about.

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