A key responsibility of technology companies is to monitor the content on their platforms for child sexual abuse material (CSAM), and if found, they are required by law to report it to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). . Many companies have content moderators who review content that has been flagged as potentially CSAM, and they determine whether the content should be reported to the NCMEC.
However, Facebook has a policy that could mean under-reporting child sexual abuse, according to a new report from The New York Times† A Facebook training document instructs content moderators to “side with an adult” when they don’t know someone’s age in a photo or video suspected of being CSAM, the report said.
The policy has been prepared for Facebook content moderators who work at Accenture and is discussed in a California Law Review August article:
Interviewees also described a policy called “bumping” that each of them personally disagreed with. The policy applies when a content moderator cannot easily determine whether the subject in a suspected CSAM photo is a minor (“B”) or an adult (“C”). In such situations, content moderators are instructed to assume that the subject is an adult, causing more images not to be reported to NCMEC.
Here’s the company’s reasoning for the policy, from: The New York Times†
Antigone Davis, chief of security for Meta, confirmed the policy in an interview, saying it arose out of concerns about the privacy of those posting adult sexual images. “The sexual abuse of children online is abhorrent,” said Ms. Davis, stressing that Meta uses a multi-layered, rigorous review process that flags far more images than any other tech company. She said the consequences of falsely flagging child sexual abuse could be “life-changing” for users.
Reached out for comment, Facebook (which is now under the Meta umbrella) pointed out Davis’ quotes in the NYT† Accenture did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Accenture declined to comment on The New York Times†
Update March 31, 9:09 PM ET: Facebook pointed to Davis’ quotes in the NYT†