Technology

Facebook has been monetizing search buffalo shooting videos

People looking for pictures of Saturday’s massacre on Facebook in Buffalo, NY may Saw a message with a picture of the attack or a link to a website that suppressed the promise There is a full video of the gunman. Interspersed between those messages, they may have seen a variety of ads.

Sometimes the social network offers a follow-up ad with a message offering a video clip, which the gunman broadcast live on the Twitch video platform as he killed 10 people. For the past six days, live recordings have been circulating across the internet, including on Facebook, Twitter and the forum, as well as bulletin boards and extremist sites, although some companies have tried to remove such content.

As the live broadcast of the 18-year-old sniper moves towards rapid spread, permanent recordings highlight the challenges that the big tech platforms face in maintaining their place for violent content.

Facebook and its parent company, Meta, rely on a combination of artificial intelligence, user reports and human controllers to track and delete shooting videos like the Buffalo one. But in some search results, Facebook is watching violent videos or links to websites that host clips next to ads.

It is not clear how many ads appear next to the post with the video. The search terms related to the shooting video were compounded by ads for horror movies, clothing companies and video streaming services in tests conducted by The New York Times and Tech Transparency, an industry monitoring group. In some cases, Facebook has suggested some search terms on Buffalo sniper videos, noting that they are “now popular” on the platform.

In a one-time search, the platform displayed two video game company ads below a shooting clip uploaded to Facebook that was described as “more pictures Buff. Buffalo Shooter.” The Times did not disclose the exact terms or phrases used in the search on Facebook.

Augustine Fou, a researcher on cyber security and ad fraud, says a large tech platform has the potential to destroy searches that occur in tragic events. “It’s technically easy,” he said. “If you choose to do it, one can easily waive these conditions.”

Andy Stone, Meta’s spokesman, said in a statement: “Our aim is to protect our users from seeing this horrible content even if bad actors intend to insist on paying attention to it,” Andy Stone, a Meta spokesman, said in a statement. He did not mention the Facebook ad.

Facebook also has the ability to track searches on its platform. Search terms such as “ISIS” and “massacre” lead to warnings about image content that users must click before viewing results.

While a search for a similar term on Buffalo video on Google did not result in any ads, Fou said there is a difference between the search platform and Facebook. At Google, advertisers can choose the keywords they want to display their ad against, he said. Facebook, on the other hand, places ads on a user’s news feed or search results that it believes are relevant to that user based on Facebook interests and web activity.

Michael Aciman, a Google spokesman, said the company had identified the Buffalo shooting as a “sensitive event”, meaning that ads could not be targeted to searches related to it. “We do not allow ads to continue with relevant keywords,” he said.

Facebook has been on fire in the past for ads appearing near right-wing extremist content. In the aftermath of the January 6, 2021, riots in the U.S. Capitol, BuzzFeed News found that the platform was displaying ads for military equipment and firearms after the invasion message.

Following the report, the company suspended advertising on firearms and military equipment through admission. The presidential candidate that month.

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