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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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8.7 million child-porn images?

26 October 2018

Facebook has always been somewhat over-zealous in policing the issue of nudity on its website.

There are countless stories of folk who have had innocent pictures deleted by Facebook because they were deemed to fall foul of their policies on nudity and, it seems, there is little latitude for art works either.

It seems that if there is *any* chance of someone taking offense at an image, Facebook will delete it.

So what? It's their website, you are a guest and you acknowledge when you join-up that *they* set the standards and the rules. Where is the problem?

Well I'll tell you...

Media sources around the world are reporting that, thanks to some new AI technology, Facebook has just successfully deleted 8.7 million child-nudity images from its pages.

Excuse me?

When has AI ever been that good?

I think that the truth is, Facebook has deleted 8.7 million images that it *thinks* included child nudity -- and that's hugely different to the claim.

We've seen Google's AI routines regularly stuffing up the comparatively simple task of deciding whether a piece of audio belongs to someone else so what are the chances that a far more complex task could be achieved with perfect accuracy?

One thing I find *very* interesting in this report on the latest Facebook saga is this statement:

"Facebook had already been using photo-matching technology to compare newly uploaded photos with known images of child exploitation and revenge porn"

Excuse me?

So you're saying that Facebook has had this *huge* library of illegal pornography on its servers all the time and that's okay -- because it's being used to spot the same images being uploaded by users?

Hmmm...

What's the next scandal we'll see... "Facebook execs caught watching their own library of porn but say it's because they're thinking of the children"??

Now don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not in favour of the Net being used to disseminate unlawful images... but let's face it, if Facebook thinks that some treasured Greek statue is obscene... how many people have woken up to find that the holiday snaps they took of their kids at the beach last summer are now missing -- flagged as "child nudity"?

As I said at the start of today's column... Facebook provides the service so Facebook gets to make the rules. However, it is extremely unfortunate that, in these days of sensationalist click-bait fake-news, the media has been able to write headlines which imply that nearly 9 million child-porn images were found on this very popular website. Especially when the reality is that there were almost certainly *some* illegal images but the vast majority of those deleted were probably either done so in error or simply the type of image that innocent, healthy, honest, fun, family memories are made of.

Damn the mainstream media (again).

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