Facebook shares are trading in positive territory in pre-market activity, as news emerges the tech giant’s algorithms have declared parts of the US Declaration of Independence as containing hate speech.
However, the social media platform later apologised and allowed all the posted excerpts of the declaration to remain on the site.
Facebook shares closed lower in the US Tuesday, at $192.73. The stock is currently in the green in out-of-hours activity.
Facebook bots trawl all posts
A local Texas community-based paper, ‘The Liberty County Vindicator’ had been posting excerpts of the declaration in the run up to US Independence Day on the 4th of July. However, the Facebook algorithms that trawl the site to ensure all content is suitable, took exception to some of them.
The text that Facebook’s bots were unhappy with was a section referring to “merciless Indian savages.”
That meant that part 10 of the paper’s series of posts was blocked from Facebook, with a message saying the post wasn’t in line with its standards on hate speech.
A Facebook message was later sent to paper, apologising and confirming the post was allowed on the site.
“It looks like we made a mistake and removed something you posted on Facebook that didn't go against our community standards,” Facebook said. “We want to apologise and let you know that we've restored your content and removed any blocks on your account related to this incorrect action.”
Issue highlights that AI still has a lot to learn
The editor of the ‘Vindicator’ wrote after the incident that different phrasing could have allowed the paragraph to pass Facebooks rules.
"Perhaps had Thomas Jefferson written it as 'Native Americans at a challenging stage of cultural development' that would have been better,” Editor Casey Stinnett wrote.
“Unfortunately, Jefferson, like most British colonists of his day, did not hold an entirely friendly view of Native Americans,” Stinnet added.