YouTube and Facebook prioritise on child safety

In Summary

YouTube and Facebook are working on ensuring the safety of our children on the internet in this technological era.

A 3D-printed YouTube icon is seen in front of a displayed YouTube logo in this illustration taken October 25, 2017. /REUTERS
A 3D-printed YouTube icon is seen in front of a displayed YouTube logo in this illustration taken October 25, 2017. /REUTERS

YouTube and Facebook are working on ensuring the safety of our children on the internet in this technological era.

In a recent announcement, Facebook said that it will begin open-sourcing two of its algorithms used to identify child exploitation and terrorist propaganda. 

The above technologies can 'detect identical and nearly identical photos and videos' according to an article on the company’s website.

This allows for sites to be able to flag content that may be inappropriate thus curbing it fro spreading to other pages or sites.

'For example, when we identify terrorist propaganda on our platforms, we remove it and hash it using a variety of techniques, including the algorithms we’re sharing today,' said the article.

'Then we share the hashes with industry partners, including smaller companies, through GIFCT so they can also take down the same content if it appears on their services,' added.

Facebook's decision to open-source its algorithms coincides with a similar report released earlier on Bloomberg revealing YouTube's decision to tweak an algorithm governing content for children.  

According to the site, YouTube adjusted the algorithm last month. Though the company declined to state why it tweaked its software which now favours 'trusted' creators  the change comes amid mounting pressure to make YouTube safer for kids. 

Changes haven't gone without consequences, however. The tweak according to YouTube creators has reduced viewership for some with views dropping by as much as 98 percent.

The company has also failed to define how it prioritises content other than saying that it must be 'educational' and 'quality.'  Both the companies, YouTube and Facebook in addition to the other large tech companies have come under increased scrutiny as of late, attracting the attention of lawmakers and regulators. For instance in March, Facebook was criticised for what some said was a failure to stem the spread of videos depicting shootings in Christchurch New Zealand during which white nationalists killed 51 people in a mosque.