Facebook keeps saying it’s getting better at filtering out racist, sexist, and other hateful content. But if it’s struggling to do so with public posts, the company may have an even harder time in private posts behind tightly closed doors. Case in point: the multiple secret Facebook groups of US Customs and Border Protection agents uncovered that reportedly share that type of content.
In case you’ve missed it, earlier this month, A.C. Thomspon at ProPublica revealed the existence of a secret Facebook group including current and former CBP officials called “I’m 10-15,” a reference to the Border Patrol’s code for “aliens in custody.” The group, created in 2016 and with some 9,500 members, posted sexist and racist memes, including jokes about migrant deaths and doctored pictures of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). CNN subsequently reported over the July Fourth weekend that there is a second secret CBP group, “The Real CBP Nation,” with similarly offensive content. While CBP has said it will investigate the offensive posts, there have been reports that the agency actually knew about the groups for years.
The revelations have caused a political uproar: some Democrats have called for the agents in the groups to be fired, and the House Oversight Committee has launched an investigation into the matter.
But this has also put the spotlight, yet again, on Facebook’s moderation policies. Facebook’s automated technologies and artificial intelligence have the ability to detect some of the content that violates its policies, even when it’s posted in secret groups, but those technologies are not perfect. It often relies on users to flag potentially policy-violating content, but in the case of secret groups, users outside the group can’t see it.
Private groups and messaging pose specific problems to Facebook’s two-pronged automatic and human-driven moderation approach — they also are, Facebook says, its future.
Secret Facebook groups are invisible to you unless you’re invited — but not to Facebook
A secret Facebook group is, as its name suggests, secret. People can only join them by invitation, and only current and former members can see the group’s name or description. They’re not like closed groups, where you can see they’re there and request to join to see what’s in them. They don’t show up in search results, so there’s no way for you to know they exist unless someone invites you in.
But just because non-members can’t see what’s in secret groups, or that they exist, doesn’t mean Facebook can’t. It uses artificial intelligence, human moderators, and other mechanisms to try to filter out content that violates its policies, even when it’s in a secret group. But that has its limitations. According to data from Facebook, it caught about 65 percent of content that violated its hate speech policies in the first quarter of the year before users reported it, or about 4 million hate speech posts. (It’s much better at catching nudity, terrorist content, and fake accounts automatically.)
That means that on hate speech — like what’s being posted in the secret CBP groups — Facebook would need to rely more on users reporting violating content. But of course members of those groups probably aren’t going to be reporting their peers and people they agree with. And because secret groups are such a black box, there’s really no way for outside entities to monitor how much moderation Facebook is really doing.
House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD) sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg following the ProPublica report asking Facebook to preserve all documents, communications, and data from the “I’m 10-15” group and provide postings from the group to the committee. He also said the posts reported appear to violate Facebook’s Community Standards on hate speech.
A Facebook spokesperson in an emailed statement said the company’s policies apply across Facebook, including secret groups. “While the general public can’t see content within these groups, our detection systems can. Using a combination of technology and human review, we routinely remove many types of violating content before anyone reports it,” the spokesperson said. “There is still more we can do, and we continue to improve our technology to detect violating content.”
The spokesperson declined to comment on whether the company would comply with Cummings’s request or had shut down the 10-15 group, citing the federal investigation into the group. Facebook said it has removed “several pieces of content” from the Real CBP Nation group.
As Elizabeth Dwoskin at the Washington Post notes, this isn’t the first time questions have been raised about how Facebook deals with content in secret groups:
Facebook banned the conspiracy theorist media star Alex Jones last year, but private groups with thousands of members continued to promote his work. Groups dedicated to the pro-Trump conspiracy theory QAnon thrive on Facebook, as do communities that oppose vaccination. In 2017, the military launched an investigation of a secret Facebook group composed of Marines who had shared naked photos of fellow female service members. Private and public groups also played a significant role in helping white supremacists organize their march in Charlottesville in 2017.
And ProPublica reports that civil rights groups have been flagging hateful posts in secret groups to Facebook for years, and the company hasn’t really responded much.
According to CNN, the “I’m 10-15” group changed its name to “America First” after the ProPublica report but has now archived the page, meaning there can’t be more posts or comments. A spokesman for the CBP did not return a request for comment on its investigation.
Facebook is moving more in the direction of private groups, not less
Facebook has good reason to try to improve how it polices content in private groups: Closed communities are the direction the company’s going in.
In March, Zuckerberg said in a post that Facebook intends to build out a “privacy-focused messaging and social networking platform” moving forward. He said the company would focus on private interactions, encryption, and reducing permanence (meaning it won’t keep messages or posts longer than necessary). The decision makes sense, given that Facebook already owns private messaging app WhatsApp and has its own messaging service, Messenger, and Facebook is reportedly planning to integrate those messaging services as well as Instagram.
And Facebook has said it wants to focus on groups. In a post on the first day of its F8 developers conference in April, Facebook said it wants to put groups first and make it “easy for people to go from public spaces to more private ones.” It claims that more than 400 million people on Facebook belong to a “meaningful” group, though it does not provide a breakdown of how many of those groups are public, closed, or secret.
To be sure, secret groups aren’t, by default, bad. Facebook pointed out that they can be a place for people to share intimate and important details about their lives with only specific communities, such as victims of domestic abuse, people who suffer from addiction, or people with illnesses or medical diagnoses.
But the controversy over the CBP groups demonstrates the challenges Facebook still faces in how it deals with the content on its platform and how bad actors might use the tools it’s created, including secret groups, for nefarious purposes. Its technologies may catch two-thirds of hate speech on the website, but even with that, it apparently missed the 10-15 group’s hate for years.
Recode and Vox have joined forces to uncover and explain how our digital world is changing — and changing us. Subscribe to Recode podcasts to hear Kara Swisher and Peter Kafka lead the tough conversations the technology industry needs today.
20 Texts That Prove a Relationship Is Not an Easy Game
Chats make our relationships more exciting and unpredictable! 25% of couples sometimes even text their partner when they are both home together. It’s very difficult to say goodbye to text messaging because so many funny and amusing things go on there!
We at Bright Side also love to laugh at digital chatting situations between couples and want to share with you a new genre of humor.
Do you also have chats like this with your partner? Please, share your stories below!
Marvel Phase 4: Black Widow, Doctor Strange 2, Thor 4 schedule revealed
For the first time in years we finally have an idea of what Marvel Studios has planned for the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The studio revealed its upcoming schedule during its Hall H panel at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday night, announcing at least 10 projects to expect over the next two years. The biggest revelations include the news that Natalie Portman will wield Thor’s hammer; Mahershala Ali will star in a new Blade project; and a confirmation from Marvel that it’s working on movies featuring some of the studio’s recently acquired characters.
Marvel’s business plan and marketing strategy has long been to hype what’s next, with much of that hype being driven by its signature post-credits scenes and panels at fan conventions like Comic-Con or Disney’s D23. And for awhile, it was customary for the studio to announce its release schedule several years early — in 2015 Marvel announced movies like 2018’s Black Panther and 2019’s Captain Marvel.
But even the studio’s two most-recent films — April’s colossal cinematic juggernaut known as Avengers: Endgame and this month’s Spider-Man: Far From Home — arrived in theaters, Marvel still hadn’t revealed what movies it’s launching in 2020, or if it plans to launch any at all. Meanwhile, the studio had kept relatively quiet save for a few casting and crew announcements (like we found out this week that Taika Waititi would be directing the fourth Thor movie).
Here’s what Marvel announced during its Comic-Con panel:
- Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson and Rachel Weisz and directed by Cate Shortland, arriving in theaters on May 1, 2020
- The Eternals, starring Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek and directed by Chloe Zhao, arriving in theaters on November 6, 2020
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, starring Simu Liu and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, arriving in theaters on February 12, 2021. Shang Chi will be Marvel’s first film with a lead character of Asian descent.
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olsen (yes, Scarlet Witch) and directed by Scott Derrickson, arriving in theaters on May 7, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder, directed by Taika Waititi and starring Natalie Portman (who will wield the legendary hammer as the first female Thor), Tessa Thompson, and Chris Hemsworth, arriving in theaters on November 5, 2021
Marvel studios president Kevin Feige also confirmed upcoming movies involving the Fantastic Four and the X-Men’s mutants — characters who were previously owned by Fox, but which now fall under Marvel’s purview thanks to the recent Disney-Fox merger. He also confirmed that the sequels for Black Panther and Captain Marvel, are in development. Black Panther is Marvel’s biggest solo superhero movie to date, having made $1.3 billion worldwide, and Captain Marvel, its first solo superhero film to center on a female hero, also passed the $1 billion mark.
Vying for the biggest surprise of the evening was Feige bringing Mahershala Ali to the Comic-Con stage to announce a new Blade project. Ali previously appeared as the villain in Marvel’s Netflix series Luke Cage, so the new Blade film project possibly signals that Marvel’s television projects with Netflix and its cinematic universe are completely separate entities.
Marvel also revealed its television series lineup for Disney’s forthcoming streaming service Disney+, which is scheduled to launch in November:
- The Falcon & Winter Soldier in fall 2020
- WandaVision in spring 2021
- Loki in spring 2021
- WHAT IF …? — an animated series featuring characters from the MCU in summer 2021
- Hawkeye in fall 2021
For fans who can’t wait until 2020 for Marvel’s next best thing, rest assured. The studio will probably have more surprises to share next month — and perhaps even first-look footage or concept art from its upcoming projects— at Disney’s D23 convention, which will take place from August 23 to 25, 2019 in Anaheim.
23 Moving Photos That Prove Our Moms Deserve All the Love in the World
From creating cosplay costumes for us and making lunches for all of our friends to giving us everything they’ve got, mothers never fail to surprise us! Their imagination and wit have no limits, as they always know how to find a solution to any situation, even if their resources are limited and time is short. No matter how old we get, we’ll always stay kids in our mothers’ eyes and they’ll always rush to help us, even if we’re 30 years old.
Bright Side wants to admire our moms, which why we’re so happy to give you 23 photos where people captured moments of being emotional, clever, brave and strong.
1. After giving birth, a mother laughs hysterically at her husband who just fainted at the sight of their newborn son.
2. “Little me knew exactly how to show appreciation for my mother.”
3. Proud mom with her graduated son
4. “My mom gave me a kidney 2 years ago. All I can give her are flowers.”
5. This clever single mother dressed up as a dad to take her kid to “Donuts With Dad” day at school.
6. She has 3 daughters and she writes 5 lines a day to each of them. These will be gifts when they get married one day.
7. This mom poses as a power ranger with her son. You don’t need to be a child to know how to have fun!
8. A homeless mother is dressing her daughter for school.
9. “My friend’s mom made my turtles sweaters.”
10. “A coworker said her mom made lunch for the office. We accepted.”
11. The best cosplay is when your mom decides to participate in it too.
12. “I told my mom I was really sick today. An hour later she showed up at my house with this. I’m 30.”
13. “I’m a teacher in Canada and my mom made me this scarf to keep me warm.”
14. A daughter surprised her mother with an early return from deployment. Her mother’s emotions are priceless.
15. “Yesterday my mom ran for the first time in 9 months since the Boston Marathon bombings. She’s my inspiration!”
16. “Jokingly, I sent my mom a cutout of myself while I was studying abroad. She seems to be entertaining herself with it.”
17. “This is one of my favorite pics of my mom even though she isn’t in focus. Hope you guys enjoy it.”
18. “My mom smiling after saving 40 kids from a burning school bus today”
19. “Look at this giant blanket my mom crocheted!”
20. “This is how my mom greeted me at the airport after having not seen me for a few years. She made me walk through the entire airport under her left arm.”
21. “My mom and I have always bonded over GoT. This year she made me these cakes for my 30th ’name day’.”
22. “My father passed away from lung cancer in July. Mom had these gifts made for me and my brother. The best gift I’ve ever received.”
“This is a shirt I used to wear, and when you hold it I’ll be there. Love, Dad.”
23. “My mom graduating with her Ph.D. in social work from Tulane. Her goal was to graduate by 60 and she did it with a year to spare.”
BONUS: Moms are always the same, loving and caring for everyone.
Which photo did you like the most? Do you have an adorable photo of you with your mom? Let’s share them in the comment section!
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