How enforcement technology works

UPDATED

JUN 23, 2021

The Facebook company uses technology to enforce the Facebook Community Standards and Instagram Community Guidelines . Our teams work together to build and train the technology. Here’s how it works.

Building models and making predictions

The process begins with our artificial intelligence teams. They build machine learning models that can perform tasks, such as recognizing what’s in a photo or understanding text. Then, our integrity teams—who are responsible for scaling the detection and enforcement of our policies—build upon these models to create more specific models that make predictions about people and content. These predictions help us enforce our policies.

For example, an AI model predicts whether a piece of content is hate speech or violent and graphic content. A separate system—our enforcement technology—determines whether to take an action, such as deleting, demoting or sending the content to a human review team for further review.

Learning by repetition, verified by humans

When we first build new technology for content enforcement, we train it to look for certain signals. For example, some technology looks for nudity in photos, while other technology learns to understand text. At first, a new type of technology might have low confidence about whether a piece of content violates our policies.

Review teams can then make the final call, and our technology can learn from each human decision. Over time—after learning from thousands of human decisions—the technology becomes more accurate.

Our policies also evolve over time to keep up with changes in our product, social norms and language. As a result, both training our technology and review teams is a gradual and iterative process.

Detecting repeat violations

Technology is very good at detecting the same content over and over—millions of times, if necessary. Our technology will take action on a new piece of content if it matches or comes very close to another piece of violating content. This is particularly helpful for viral misinformation campaigns, memes and other content that can spread extremely quickly.

Making subtle distinctions

Technology can find and remove the same content over and over. But it’s a big challenge to get a machine to understand nuances in word choice or how small differences may change the context.

The first image is the original piece of misleading content, which includes misinformation about public health safety.

The second image is a screenshot of the first image, this time with the computer’s menu bar at the top.

Finally, the third image looks extremely similar to the first and second image, but it has 2 small word changes that make the headline accurate and no longer false.

This is fairly easy for humans to understand, but hard for technology to get right. There’s a risk of erring too much on one side or the other. If the technology is too aggressive, it will remove millions of non-violating posts. If it’s not aggressive enough, it will think the screenshot with the menu bar is different from the original, and will fail to take action on the content.

We spend a lot of time working on this. Over the last few years, we made several investments to help our technology get better at detecting subtle distinctions in content. It gets more precise every day as it continues to learn.