Facebook will use police footage to train AI to spot mass-shooting livestreams

Despite all its promising words about the power of automated AI moderation systems, Facebook badly failed during the Christchurch mass shooting, where a white supremacist killed 51 people at two mosques in New Zealand, streaming the footage directly to the site. 

The video was then shared more than 1.5 million times across Facebook before the site was able to detect its content and stem the spread. 

Facebook is trying to train its artificial intelligence systems to ensure this doesn’t happen again, and it has reached a partnership with police in the UK and US to do so. The plan is to feed the AI first-person footage from firearms training programs, so the company’s automated systems can tell the difference between real-world atrocities and content from movies and games. 

Video of the attack in Christchurch did not prompt our automatic detection systems because we did not have enough content depicting first-person footage of violent events to effectively train our machine learning technology,” the company explained in a blog post.

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How does Facebook convince the police to share this footage? Well, the Financial Times has some insights on that, reporting that while Facebook won’t be paying the Metropolitan Police for the footage, it will be providing the cameras without charge. The footage will also be shared with the Home Office, and potentially to other companies with similar plans to stop the streaming of mass shootings elsewhere.

The technology Facebook is seeking to create could help identify firearms attacks in their early stages and potentially assist police across the world in their response to such incidents,” Neil Basu, the top-ranking counter terrorism police officer told the paper. “Technology that automatically stops live streaming of attacks once identified, would also significantly help prevent the glorification of such acts and the promotion of the toxic ideologies that drive them.”

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