Facebook apologises after search results suggest users watch child sex abuse videos

Searching 'videos of' brought up a whole range of sexual and illicit videos

Andrew Griffin
Friday 16 March 2018 18:04
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Facebook has apologised for suggesting its users should watch child sex abuse videos.

The suggestion was just one of a range of strange messages that were shown in the site's search bar overnight.

Users reported that if they typed only "videos of" into the site's search engine, they would be greeted with a range of horrifying, vulgar and strange suggested searches. Many of the results used sexual language, with some referring to "little girls", and the suggestions came up even to users who searched in other languages.

It's not clear how the messages appeared. Facebook uses a range of different tools to try and guess what users might be looking to search for before they type it in.

Even once the sexual suggestions disappeared, other strange phrases were appearing when users entered the search.

Facebook apologised for the bizarre results and said it was launching an investigation.

"We're very sorry this happened. As soon as we became aware of these offensive predictions we removed them," it said.

"Facebook search predictions are representative of what people may be searching for on Facebook and are not necessarily reflective of actual content on the platform.

"We do not allow sexually explicit imagery, and we are committed to keeping such content off of our site. We are looking into why these search predictions appeared, and going forward, we're working to improve the quality of search predictions."

The discovery came soon after it emerged that Facebook was running a survey that asked users whether the site should allow it users to solicit sexual images from children. It asked users how they should be policed – and suggested that the site might opt not to take them down.

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