Before Facebook Inc shut down a rapidly growing "Stop the Steal" Facebook Group on Thursday, the forum featured calls for members to ready their weapons should President Donald Trump lose his bid to remain in the White House.
In disabling the group after coverage by Reuters and other news organizations, Facebook cited the forum's efforts to delegitimize the election process and "worrying calls for violence from some members."
Such rhetoric was not uncommon in the run-up to the election in Facebook Groups, a key booster of engagement for the world's biggest social network, but it did not always get the same treatment.
A survey of U.S.-based Facebook Groups between September and October conducted by digital intelligence firm CounterAction at the request of Reuters found rhetoric with violent overtones in thousands of politically oriented public groups with millions of members...
While use of violent language does not always equate to an actionable threat, Matthew Hindman, a machine learning and media scholar at George Washington University who reviewed the results, said Facebook's artificial intelligence should have been able to pick out common terms for review.
"If you're still finding thousands of cases of 'shoot them' and 'get a rope,' you're looking at a systemic problem. There's no way a modern machine learning system would miss something like that," he said.