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Facebook’s integrity ranking failure led to 30% more misinformation on site

Facebook’s integrity ranking failure led to 30% more misinformation on site
1 Apr, 2022
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Half of the news feeds of Facebook were exposed to integrity risks over the past six months owing to a bug that led to a failure in ranking posts for objectionable content and misinformation, according to a report by The Verge.

The fault was identified by a group of Facebook engineers who first noticed an issue in October 2021, the site had a sudden surge of misinformation on their news feed.

The code was supposed to block or suppress posts that were potentially misinformation. These posts were reviewed by Facebook’s third-party fact-checking team. A report circulated internally by the company showed that content that was supposed to be suppressed was actually spiked by 30%. The report said that the engineers were unable to find the root cause and watched as the surge subsided and flared up until finally being fixed on March 11.

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More specifically, the internal investigation by the team found that Facebook’s systems were unable to suppress violence, nudity and posts from Russian state media. The problem was ranked a level one Site Event, a label that is given to most pressing issues. A recent issue that was also given the level one SEV status is Russia blocking Facebook and Instagram.

“The company detected inconsistencies in downranking on five separate occasions, which correlated with small, temporary increases to internal metrics,” according to Joe Osborne from Meta.

The incident allegedly dates back to 2019, but the first prominent impact was observed in October 2021, according to some internal documents. 

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