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Facebook’s security chief Alex Stamos defends algorithms


With Facebook algorithms coming under the lens for being “biased” and failing to check “fake” news, the social network’s security chief tweeted that doing away with algorithms is not the answer. “In any situation where millions/billions/tens of Bs of items need to be sorted, need algos,” Alex Stamos, Chief Security Officer at Facebook, said in a tweet late on Saturday.

Facebook uses algorithms to determine everything from what you see and do not see in News Feed, to finding and removing other content like hate speech and violent threats, ReCode reported.The social network has faced criticism in the past for using these algorithms — and not humans — to monitor its service for things like abuse, violent threats, and misinformation.

“Nobody of substance at the big companies thinks of algorithms as neutral. Nobody is not aware of the risks,” Stamos, a key player in Facebook’s effort to understand Russian election meddling, said in a series of tweets.

The social network is currently facing intense scrutiny over the presence of Russia-linked ads on its platform during the 2016 American presidential election and along with Twitter, is set to appear before the US Congress on November 1 to testify. Before pointing out the shortcomings of algorithms, Stamos suggested that journalists should try to talk to people who have actually had to solve these problems and live with the consequences.

Despite Stamos’ outbursts on Twitter, Facebook is reportedly planning to make scrutiny of some advertisements more stringent before they are published on its platforms.  The social network is going to require ads that are targeted to people based on “politics, religion, ethnicity or social issues” to be manually reviewed before they go live, Axios.com reported.

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