During the company’s first-quarter-2017 earnings call Wednesday, Cowen & Co. analyst John Blackledge asked about whether artificial intelligence could be used over time to help monitor the social network’s livestreaming feature, and co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg replied:
The short answer is yes. AI tools over time will be able to do a better job of flagging things for the set of people who are in the community operations team so that we can prioritize what we look at. A lot of what we’re trying to do here is not just about getting content off Facebook. Last week, there was this case where someone was using Facebook Live to broadcast or was thinking about suicide. And we saw that video and actually didn’t take it down and helped get in touch with law enforcement, who used that live video to communicate with that person and help save their life. So a lot of what we’re trying to do is not just about taking the content down, but also about helping people when they’re in need on the platform, and we take that very, very seriously.
Over time, the AI tools will get better. Right now there are certain things that AI can do in terms of understanding text and understanding what’s in a photo and what’s in a video. That will get better over time. That will take a period of years, though, to really reach the quality level that we want. So for a while, our strategy has been to just continue building as good tools as we can because no matter how many people we have on the team, we’re never going to be able to look at everything. So that’s going be a big challenge.
But given the importance of this and how quickly live video is growing, we wanted to make sure that we doubled down on this and made sure we provided as safe of an experience for the community as we can, which is why we’re almost doubling the size of the community ops team to focus on some of these issues around safety on live video. But over time for sure, more AI will do this, but this is over a period of years.