Facebook Says Internal System Was Unprepared for New Zealand Shooting Livestream

Sean Burch
A Facebook mailing facility in Menlo Park, California, has been evacuated Monday after sarin — a compound used as a chemical weapon — was detected during a routine mail check, a Menlo Park Fire Department official confirmed to TheWrap.So far, no employees are showing signs they’re suffering from the chemical’s exposure, the fire official said — pushing back on initial reports that two employees had been exposed. A machine that checks all mail received by the tech giant detected traces of sarin around 11 a.m., and the Menlo Park FD was alerted soon after.Sarin, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, is “a human-made chemical warfare agent classified as a nerve agent. Nerve agents are the most toxic and rapidly acting of the known chemical warfare agents.”Also Read: Is Facebook's New Cryptocurrency a 'Bitcoin Killer'? 6 Things to Know About LibraIt’s unclear how many employees were evacuated.“At 11:00 a.m. [PDT] this morning, a package delivered to one of our mail rooms was deemed suspicious. We evacuated four buildings and are conducting a thorough investigation in coordination with local authorities. Authorities have not yet identified the substance found,” Facebook spokesperson Anthony Harrison told TheWrap. “As of now, three of the evacuated buildings have been cleared for repopulation. The safety of our employees is our top priority and we will share additional information when it is available.”The potentially toxic package has been “quarantined,” according to a fire department official, and is being tested by a hazardous materials team.“Sometimes machines make mistakes,” Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman told the Los Angeles Times.  “This is a standard package-handling call we’re dealing with.”Also Read: 7 Code Conference Highlights: From Content Moderation Woes to the Facebook Breakup DebateThe mailing facility is at 1195 Hamilton Court — about half a mile away from Facebook’s corporate headquarters in Menlo Park.The FBI has been contacted, according to the Times, and will carry out an investigation if sarin is confirmed to be in the package.The news was first reported by NBC Bay Area.Read original story Facebook Office Evacuated After Potentially Deadly Chemical Detected in Package At TheWrap

Facebook’s artificial intelligence tools were unable to quickly scan and remove live footage of the New Zealand terror attack, where 50 Muslims were shot and killed last month in Christchurch, because it’s system was unprepared to detect such a violent attack, according to a company executive on Wednesday.

Neil Potts, Facebook’s public policy director, said the first-person livestream of the shooting “was a type of video we had not seen before,” according to Bloomberg. The livestream, recorded with a GoPro camera mounted on the shooter’s head, tricked Facebook’s AI system into inaction, he explained. Potts made the remark while testifying before a British Parliamentary committee investigating hate crimes.

The explanation comes after Facebook was ridiculed by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden for not moving fast enough in removing the livestreamed attack. The livestream, which captured the anguished cries pierce the brief moments between gun shots, remained up for nearly 20 minutes before Facebook was alerted by New Zealand police officers that the attack was being broadcast. Shortly following the attack, Arden said Facebook and other major tech companies bear some “responsibility” for the video.

Also Read: Inside Facebook, YouTube and Twitter's Struggle to Purge Video of the New Zealand Mosque Attacks

But entirely eradicating the video is immensely difficult, if not impossible. The attack, and others like it, isn’t something that can be proactively blocked from social media. Instead, the shooting, which was  livestreamed using Facebook Live and then recirculated on other platforms, is something that forces human moderators and artificial intelligence tools to act quickly to block. But the reaction isn’t instantaneous or flawless. While platforms like Facebook and YouTube are busy deleting posts, some users are working to share the attack. It’s the digital equivalent of capping a busted fire hydrant.

Facebook’s internal AI tools, while unable to immediately spot the livestreamed attack, were able to scanned the original attack video and allow its system to immediately spot similar footage and remove most uploads, a company rep explained last month. Facebook deputy general counsel Chris Sonderby said the livestream of the attack was viewed 200 times and wasn’t reported by anyone watching it; Facebook ultimately received a user complaint 29 minutes after it started, or about 12 minutes after the livestream ended. The video was ultimately viewed about 4,000 times, according to Sonderby, and the video was deleted 1.5 million times in the 24 hours after the attack — including 1.2 million uploads that were instantly removed.

Read original story Facebook Says Internal System Was Unprepared for New Zealand Shooting Livestream At TheWrap