As content that are intended to arouse angry or violent feelings are increasing across most of the markets as well as in India, it was none other than the global team that are responsible for reviewing such hate speech on Facebook that faced immense cost cuts.
Three potential tiers were supposedly proposed to the social media company for the very reason to reduce expenses. Firstly, reviewing fewer user reports, followed by reviewing fewer proactively detected pieces of content and lastly reviewing fewer appeals as stated according to an internal strategy note on August 6, 2019.
The August 6, 2019, note stated that, “Everyone understands that the cost reductions are coming no matter what we do: teams will be taking a haircut on their CO capacity…,” and also named ‘Cost-control: a hate speech exploration’. CO is Community operations which mainly means the contract labour force present at Facebook.
The note also said, “The question is not how to cut capacity, but how far we can cut without eliminating our ability to review user reports and do proactive work.”
The note raised a discussion on specific ways to imply the three tiers to cut costs which includes ignoring “benign user reports” and also to ask users to “be more thoughtful before submitting a request for re-review”.
The sudden need to review such fewer user reports raised from the fact that while Facebook had reviewed the maximum number of user reports, it subsequently found that the rate of action on reported content was almost “at best 25%”.
The main issue that the document pointed out was the nearly three-quarters of the costs that were incurred on the reviewing of content were mainly on account of reactive capacity which means that the capacity that is used to review the content that was already raised by users or third parties. The review costs that were incurred on capacity was only 25%.
The strategy note stated that, “In H1 (first half, January-June 2019), we worked hard in accordance with the ‘Hate 2019 H1 capacity reduction plan’ to significantly increase the volume of actions we can take while maintaining the same levels of capacity… We need to significantly increase the rigour with which we make decisions on how to spend our human review capacity across the board, and indeed in case of hate speech we need to cut a significant amount of our current capacity in order to fund new initiatives.”
By the end of June 2019, according to the plan issued, Facebook had planned to reduce the dollar cost by 15 per cent of the total hate review capacity. Also, as per the document, the company was spending almost above $2 million per week to review all the hate content.
There is no exact figure of total expenditure that has been undertaken by Facebook to review hate speech annually and the figure always keeps on changing.
In addition to the hurdles of cost-control that the content review team of Facebook has gone into, there is no particular evidence that recognizes the conflict between teams that specifically dealt with misinformation, spam, hate speech etc, and those that were only designed algorithms to make the news feed of Facebook users more impressing and relevant.