Facebook warns of possible delays in removing offensive posts

Facebook warns of possible delays in removing offensive posts

Facebook has admitted it may ‘make more mistakes’ and take longer to remove inaccurate and offensive posts on its website due to its staff working remotely.

The social media giant has sent its global content reviewers home until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak. This includes Dublin-based staff.

The step was taken “to keep our people safe”, the company said in a lengthy post on its website.

In recent years, Facebook has invested heavily in machine-learning and its content review teams to aid in its response to misinformation and fake news.

“As a result of Covid-19, we are working with our partners this week to send our global content reviewers home until further notice for their health and safety, while taking other steps to maintain the safety and security of our platform,” a company spokesperson said.

To ensure users see accurate and helpful information on the coronavirus outbreak, Facebook has given free ads to bodies like the World Health Organisation and the HSE, while searching for “coronavirus” on Facebook or Instagram will redirect users to pages run by the health authorities.

Review teams are still required to monitor potentially harmful posts, though, with concerns raised that reducing this work may increase the level of misinformation shared on social media.

In recent days, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has been among those criticising the sharing of misinformation on social media platforms.

“We believe the investments we’ve made over the past three years have prepared us for this situation,” Facebook said.

“With fewer people available for human review we’ll continue to prioritise imminent harm and increase our reliance on proactive detection in other areas to remove violating content.

"We don’t expect this to impact people using our platform in any noticeable way. That said, there may be some limitations to this approach and we may see some longer response times and make more mistakes as a result.”

Meanwhile, transport staff are to be given hand sanitisers and cleaning regimes will be increased across the bus and train fleet to stop the spread of the virus.

Union officials representing bus and rail workers had criticised the lack of protections for their members, who are still dealing daily with the general public.

But, following a crunch meeting with transport chiefs, it has been confirmed that a suite of measures will be implemented immediately to protect staff.

This includes issuing personal hand sanitisers to staff and an increase in cleaning regimes, with a focus on surfaces used frequently, such as handrails, ticket machines and card readers, as well as drivers’ cabins.

Irish Rail is to designate seats for social distancing, while cleaning and disinfecting of train carriages is to be increased too. There will also be a reduction in the use of train hosts, facilitated by the expected drop in customer numbers.

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024

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