“Facebook Files”: the weaknesses of moderation in many languages

Available in more than 100 languages ​​with offices in more than 30 countries, Facebook claims that its at-risk country monitoring team contains speakers of “ 50 languages ​​”. But documents transmitted by whistleblower Frances Haugen to American regulators, and which a parliamentary source transmitted to Le Monde and other media, show great disparities in many languages.

Today, Facebook does not treat the United States and the rest of the world on an equal footing, denounces Frances Haugen. The company is hypocritical because it does not invest in adequate protection mechanisms for all users who do not speak English. “” The most fragile countries have the least secure version of Facebook “, adds the whistleblower.

With 2.9 billion users, of which 90% outside the United States, Facebook has not translated the platform’s regulations, in particular prohibiting hate speech or discrimination, only in 49 languages. In addition, the devices allowing users to report hateful content are “ very poorly translated ” in many languages.

Its 15 000 moderators, managed by external providers, only cover 70 languages. In an internal document drafted before the elections of 2019 in India, a country known for its hundreds of languages, an employee congratulated himself as well as “ 12 dialects ”have been added to Hindi, Punjabi and Bengali.

artificial intelligence created to analyze content are also limited by languages. According to the note on Afghanistan, only 2% of moderate hate content in the country is thus detected automatically, against more than 90% on average worldwide.

When asked, Facebook ensures that its automatic tracking systems now work in 50 languages ​​for hate speech, and in 19 languages ​​for Covid-related disinformation – 15.

But the system responsible for recognizing Arab content criticizing terrorism is wrong more than three times out of four, leading to the removal of a large number of legitimate content. A statistic rejected by Facebook, which nevertheless appears in one of the documents consulted.

The Arabic-speaking countries of North Africa and the Middle East are a major market for Facebook, with 220 millions of active end users 2020 – a good half of the population of the area -, making Arabic the third language on the social network . However, Facebook “ is not able to have potentially illegal comments in Arabic examined by competent moderators – when they exist “, deplores Le Monde.

For some countries, Facebook simply does not have experts capable of understanding the language, and they do not master some of the main Arabic dialects, especially in very divided countries such as than Yemen, Iraq or Libya. To this problem is added another. “ When Facebook mistakenly removes news or reviews relating to these organizations, it creates the perception that Facebook is aligned with the regimes in place ,” the document added.

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