After photos of teen’s tragic death end up on Facebook, Brindisi grills head of security on content moderation

UTICA, N.Y. – The tragic killing of local teen, Bianca Devins, spurred a line of questioning from Congress regarding Facebook moderation on Thursday.

Devins was killed on July 14, and graphic photos of her body were posted to Facebook and shared across the platform in the days following her death.

Congressman Anthony Brindisi questioned the head of security policy at Facebook, Nathaniel Gleicher, about how moderators are trained to seek and cease this type of content. Brindisi says the social media site utilizes 15,000 moderators to oversee content from more than one billion users.

“I use this case as an example of how the system Facebook has in place clearly failed at the expense of my constituents. So, if content moderators are not adequately trained, or not able to keep up with workload, these tragedies will continue to occur,” said Brindisi.

Gleicher said Facebook uses a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) enabled systems, content moderators and proactive detectors to manage content oversight.

The issue for Facebook, according to Gleicher, is not just finding and removing inappropriate content, but combatting the efforts by users to spread those types images.

“What we see here, there are two pieces that are relevant — first is the immediate response to identify and remove the photograph, the second challenge is, we see, as we saw in this case, groups of people actually work actively to try to spread and share that photograph by recutting it, by editing it, and by sharing tips amongst themselves on how to beat the automated systems we have in place,” said Gleicher.

Brindisi tweeted Thursday, saying Facebook’s systems “failed massively” at identifying and eliminating Devins’ images from the platform. He says he plans to fight for more effective restrictions on graphic content posted to social media.

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