Facebook to apologise for failings at Oireachtas committee

Social network will discuss failure to police content highlighted in Channel 4 investigation

Inside Facebook: Secrets of the Social Network uncovers the policies of Facebook’s content review department, based in Dublin. Video: Channel 4


Social media giant Facebook will try to persuade an Oireachtas committee today that the problems identified in a damning investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches programme were a result of issues at CPL Resources, its Irish training partner, and its own policy failings.

Facebook will apologise for the failings in its policing of content on its site and tell members of the Oireachtas communications committee it has changed several policies and increased supervision of CPL.

Niamh Sweeney, head of Facebook Ireland’s public policy, will tell the committee: “We are in the process of an internal investigation to understand why some actions taken by CPL was not reflective of our policies and the underlying values on which they are based.”

Facebook is seconding its own content experts for six months to Dublin-based CPL, which is responsible for recruiting and training outsourced content reviewers for the company, to more closely supervise the training being provided. It is also leading a joint internal investigation into the matter with CPL.

Flag accounts

Content reviewers will be told to flag accounts they suspect belong to underage users. The company is also consulting with law enforcement and child protection agencies with a view to changing its policy that allows videos showing physical abuse against children to remain on the platform.

Speaking to The Irish Times, the company said advertisers did not want to be associated with objectionable content.

“It doesn’t make business sense,” Niamh Sweeney, head of Facebook Ireland’s public policy said. “It’s not in our interests. Advertisers don’t like it, most people don’t like it.”

An episode of the Channel 4 programme screened on July 17th showed trainers at the CPL-run centre in Dublin appearing to instruct moderators not to act on some controversial or extreme content, saying :“If you start censoring too much then people stop using the platform. It’s all about money at the end of the day.” The footage was filmed over a six-week period at the centre in Dublin.

CPL declined to comment last night.