NEW YORK — The social media company Facebook opened up to Jewish community leaders across the globe about how it actively works to combine machine learning (also known as artificial intelligence), community standards policies seeking to ensure safe content, and human oversight to monitor remove and prevent the spread of hate speech, disinformation and incitement to violence on the platform. In addressing delegates to the World Jewish Congress’ 16th Plenary Assembly, Facebook Vice President of Integrity Guy Rosen shared, “We’ve learned through the years that we need to balance fighting bad information with also providing good information.”
In recent months, this approach has included the launch of a new Facebook feature directing users who search for terms associated with the Holocaust to ascertain facts and history at the UNESCO/World Jewish Congress digital platform AboutHolocaust.org on International Holocaust Remembrance Day earlier this year.
Regarding the importance of providing credible information about the Holocaust and removing Holocaust denial content from the platform, Rosen said, “We’re very appreciative of the partnership with the World Jewish Congress and UNESCO. The site built was perfect for what we needed. We needed something that provides basic information and helps people learn more when they’re interested or searching for that kind of information.”
The WJC has been working with Facebook for a number of years to help stop the rampant spread of antisemitism, online hate and lies that has become frighteningly prevalent. Rosen discussed the responsibility of social media companies in addressing and removing hate speech, as well as responding to dangerous attempts to distort or deny the Holocaust on their platforms. He acknowledged that Facebook’s response has been guided in part by WJC’s engagement and partnership with the company, alongside many other Jewish organizations, encouraging it to ban Holocaust denial and antisemitic stereotypes, stating, “The World Jewish Congress have been a partner to us through many significant policy changes. ”
The president of Ireland’s Jewish community, Maurice Cohen, who has long been at the forefront of advocacy efforts to remove antisemitic content for social media sites, raised the issue of how Facebook can most effectively communicate its decisions regarding offensive posts to its users. The platform measures content moderation through a methodical and analytic approach, Rosen explained, acknowledging that the goal is to provide more information to people who are reporting to the company on harmful content.
“The most important metric is what we call ‘prevalence’ – how much bad content do people actually see? It measures how much do we miss, because the really important thing is making sure we miss less and less over time. It will make all the difference if a post is seen by a dozen people -- or seen by millions. We prioritize looking at the content seen by most people.”
Addressing the issue of the algorithms used by social media platforms to recommend content, Bini Gutman of Austria, president of the European Union of Jewish Students, expressed concern about how Facebook’s algorithm can lead users to view and interact with extremist groups, including QAnon. Rosen said that Facebook understands the issue and tries to limit offensive posts appearing on users’ feeds because all parties benefit from them being eliminated, “It’s certainly not in our interest to turn up the temperature, to recommend problematic content, or to drive sensationalist posts. It is our goal to ensure any algorithms are not driving any problematic outcomes.”
The conversation was moderated by Irina Rosensaft of Germany, a member of the WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps.
About the WJC Plenary Assembly
The WJC Plenary Assembly takes place every four years and brings together delegates from WJC-affiliated Jewish communities and organizations in more than 100 countries around the world. The Plenary Assembly elects WJC leadership and sets policy for the years ahead. This year, Plenary Assembly delegates have been gathering remotely since mid-April and through the end of May for discussions on key issues affecting Jewish communities. Previous topical discussion sessions covered the Iranian nuclear threat, Israel’s political future, and the role of young leaders within their communities. Participants also had the opportunity to interact with leading Islamic representatives from the Muslim World League during a special session to mark the occasion of Ramadan.
As part of the slate of events, the WJC also convened leading level government representatives at the national level whose work focuses on preventing, countering and educating around antisemitism. WJC’s Special Envoys and Coordinators Combating Antisemitism (SECCA) Forum convened this week to discuss shared strategies and international cooperation.
About the World Jewish Congress
West End Strategy Team