On Wednesday, a Facebook data scientist departed the social networking company after a two-year stint, leaving a farewell note for their colleagues to ponder. As part of a team focused on “Violence and Incitement,” they had dealt with some of the worst content on Facebook, and they were proud of their work at the company.
Despite this, they said Facebook was simply not doing enough.
“With so many internal forces propping up the production of hateful and violent content, the task of stopping hate and violence on Facebook starts to feel even more sisyphean than it already is,” the employee wrote in their “badge post,” a traditional farewell note for any departing Facebook employee. “It also makes it embarrassing to work here.”
The departing employee declined to speak with BuzzFeed News but asked that they not be named for fear of abuse and reprisal.
Using internal Facebook data and projections to support their points, the data scientist said in their post that roughly 1 of every 1,000 pieces of content — or 5 million of the 5 billion pieces of content posted to the social network daily — violates the company’s rules on hate speech. More stunning, they estimated using the company’s own figures that, even with artificial intelligence and third-party moderators, the company was “deleting less than 5% of all of the hate speech posted to Facebook.” (After this article was published, Facebook VP of integrity Guy Rosen disputed the calculation, saying it “incorrectly compares views and content.” The employee addressed this in their post and said it did not change the conclusion.)
The sentiments expressed in the badge post are hardly new. Since May, a number of Facebook employees have quit, saying they were ashamed of the impact the company was having on the world or worried that the company’s inaction in moderating hate and misinformation had led to political interference, division, and bloodshed. Another employee was fired for documenting instances of preferential treatment of influential conservative pages that repeatedly spread false information. [Continue reading…]