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Facebook moderators ‘err on the side of an adult’ when unsure of age of possible abuse photos


One of the main responsibilities of tech companies is to monitor content on their platforms for child sexual abuse material (CSAM), and if they find any, they are legally required to report it to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Many companies have content moderators in place who review content flagged as potentially CSAM, and they determine whether the content should be reported to NCMEC.

However, Facebook has a policy that could mean it underreports child sexual abuse content, according to a new report from The New York Times. A Facebook training document instructs content moderators to “err on the side of an adult” when they don’t know someone’s age in a photo or video suspected of being CSAM, according to the report.

The policy was made for Facebook content moderators working at Accenture and is discussed in a California Law Review August post:

Interviewees also described a policy called “crushing,” which each of them personally disagreed with. The policy applies when a content moderator is unable to readily determine whether the subject of a suspected CSAM photo is a minor (“B”) or an adult (“C”). In such situations, content moderators are responsible for assuming the subject is an adult, thereby allowing more images to go unreported to NCMEC.

Here’s the company’s reasoning for the policy, from The New York Times:

Antigone Davis, Meta’s chief security officer, confirmed the policy in an interview and said it stems from privacy concerns for those who post adult sexual images. “Online child sexual abuse is heinous,” Ms. Davis said, pointing out that Meta uses a rigorous, multi-tiered review process that flags far more images than any other tech company. She said the consequences of misreporting child sexual abuse could be “life changing” for users.

When reached for comment, Facebook (which is now under the Meta corporate umbrella) pointed to quotes from Davis in the NYT. Accenture did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Accenture declined to comment. The New York Times.

Updated March 31, 9:09 p.m. ET: Facebook singled out Davis’ quotes in the NYT.


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