Facebook’s plan to crack down on porn: Call in the Red Team

Dick pics might help the tech giant build better algorithms.


July 28, 2020

We get it: You took a set of tasteful nudes, and you want your finsta followers to see them.

Last year, duping Facebook’s moderation algorithm was as simple as overlaying your skin with dots or a grid.

But when Facebook caught on, it kicked off a game of nude whack-a-mole: Users switched to other shapes and patterns instead of dots.

Now the tech giant wants to end the cat-and-mouse game for good, with  a group of investigators it calls the “AI Red Team.”

Companies hire hackers to suss out security flaws

Facebook’s Red Team works the same way — but instead of a bug, they’re testing for patterns of failure.

Algorithms trip up more easily than you might think. Beyond the nudepocalypse, Facebook’s hate-speech detector might malfunction when users put multiple languages in the same post.

This problem isn’t just Facebook’s — tweak a few pixels, and Google’s AI might mistake a pair of skiers for a dog.

Facebook wants to clean up the house

Last week, the company created an “equity team” to weed out racial bias on the platform.

But most of the Red Team’s work will focus on another threat: building an algorithm that smokes out deepfakes as easily as dick pics.

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