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Facebook to train AI systems using police firearms training videos

Facebook will work with law enforcement organizations to train its artificial intelligence systems to recognize videos of violent events, the company said Tuesday. The social media giant's AI systems were unable to detect live-streamed video of a mass shooting at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The effort will use body-cam footage of firearms training provided by U.S. and U.K. government and law enforcement agencies. The aim is to develop systems that can automatically detect first-person violent events without also flagging similar footage from movies and video games.

The AI training is part of a broader effort to crack down on extremism on Facebook's platforms. The company has been working to crack down on extremist material on its service, so far with mixed success. In March, it expanded its definition of prohibited content to ban U.S. white nationalist and white separatist material as well as that from international terrorist groups. It says it has banned 200 white supremacist organizations and 26 million pieces of content related to global terrorist groups like ISIS and al Qaeda.

Extremist videos are just one item in a long list of troubles Facebook faces. It was fined $5 billion by U.S. regulators over its privacy practices. A group of state attorneys general has launched its own antitrust investigation into Facebook. And it is also part of broader investigations into "big tech" by Congress and the U.S. Justice Department.

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More regulation might be needed to deal with the problem of extremist material, said Dipayan Ghosh, a former Facebook employee and White House tech policy adviser who is currently a Harvard fellow.

"Content takedowns will always be highly contentious because of the platforms' core business model to maximize engagement," Ghosh told the Associated Press. "And if the companies become too aggressive in their takedowns, then the other side — including propagators of hate speech — will cry out."

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