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Facebook implemented stricter regulation surrounding moderation of its Live feature on Tuesday, per a companyblog post. The new policy is so-called “one-strike,” meaning it will ban users who violate community standards after a single offense, but only for set periods of time.
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The social network hasn’t yet specified which offenses will lead to what suspension periods, or which will result in full bans — a possibility mentioned in the blog. The policy change follows the livestreaming of the Christchurch shootings in New Zealand a couple of months ago, when Facebook’s failure to stop the livestream — and remove reposted videos — provoked backlash among users and regulators.
Here’s what it means:The new restriction should help Facebook transition from reactive to more proactive moderation across the platform.
With the restriction, Facebook is more aggressively and systematically cracking down on bad actors to curtail nefarious content. Previously, Facebook used to only ban people after multiple violations, and did not ban across the platform based on established behavior.
This new policy means implementation of cross-site behavior tracking, which will pinpoint users who shouldn’t have access to Live based on their past and current actions, like sharing a link to hateful content. Live-streaming video is arguably the most difficult form of content to moderate because of its instantaneous nature, leaving it vulnerable to abuse.
Facebook is recognizing the need to rely on patterns to inform a proactive approach and not simply react to events, and that it needs to improve both its human- and AI-based moderation efforts to do so. To that end, in addition to the updated guidelines, Facebook announced a new $7.5 million initiative with three US universities that will develop AI capabilities for the detection of violent imagery and reproduced videos that have been manipulated to trick its algorithims — significant issues during the Christchurch shooting.
The bigger picture:The “one-strike” policy could also play well into Facebook’s recent push to create a deeper sense of community and safety for users on the platform.
The policy resonates with Zuckerberg’s stated emphasis on improving user safety on the site and ramping up features that foster community. Both of these could ultimately drive greater and deeper engagement on the platform.
For example, if users become reluctant to engage with live video content, that could dampen Facebook’s push to drive friends to engage with video in groups through Watch Party. Facebook likely hopes to improve brand safety as well, but we’ve seen that despite repeated scandals, advertisers still aren’t pulling spend from the platform, meaning it is likely a secondary motivation at best.
Facebook has always been hesitant to punish users, so banning some — even indefinitely — shows that its priorities might be changing from sheer expansion to creating a healthy environment for its users. Monitoring its vast base of2.38 billion users presents a monumental challenge for the still-growing platform.
But, between the reworked guidelines, AI research initiative, and the paybump it recently gave to content moderators, the social network is signaling that it recognizes the importance of shifting its behaviors to improve platform safety.
The world’s largest social network still has a long road ahead of it with the regulators, politicians, and users calling for action, but this step towards preventing harmful content — rather than scrambling to remove it — is a step in the right direction.
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