Facebook research briefly suggested sexual content involving children

Yesterday, Facebook users reported that the website’s search feature started suggesting autofills of their searches that included sexually explicit phrases. After typing in “videos of”, the predictive search feature suggested phrases such as “sex videos” and “baby girl oral videos”. Facebook users posted screenshots of their research on Twitter. According to Guardian, users also reported other search suggestions that deviated from those typically offered by Facebook search, such as “zodwa wabantu videos and photos”, which refers to a South African celebrity, and “cristiano video call ronaldo hala madrid king “.

It appears that Facebook quickly fixed the issue and today issued a statement apologizing for the alarming issue. “We are very sorry that this has happened. As soon as we became aware of these offensive predictions, we deleted them,” the company said. “Facebook search predictions are representative of what people can search for on Facebook and may not necessarily reflect actual content on the platform. We do not allow sexually explicit images and we are committed to keeping such content off our site. “

But it’s the second issue of Facebook to involve sexual content and children this month. The website recently conducted a survey asking users whether adults should be allowed to request sex photos of children. Facebook deleted the survey and said in a statement, “We have banned the grooming of children on Facebook since our early days; we have no intention of changing that and we work regularly with the police to ensure that anyone found to be acting in this manner is brought to justice. “

However, Facebook isn’t the only big company to pass up such disturbing search suggestions. Last year, YouTube came under fire for its predictive search feature which also suggested sexual content involving children. Google also had to resolve issues with offensive results both in its search and in Maps.

Facebook is investigating why the phrases suddenly started showing up in user searches, and the company says it’s working to improve the quality of its suggestions, CNET reports.

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