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Facebook removed 14 million pieces of terrorist content this year, and the numbers are rising – TechCrunch

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Facebook must exert constant vigilance to prevent its platform from being taken over by ne’er-do-wells, but how exactly it does that is only really known to itself. Today, however, the company has graced us with a bit of data on what tools it’s using and what results they’re getting — for instance, more than 14 million pieces of “terrorist content” removed this year so far.

More than half of that 14 million was old content posted before 2018, some of which had been sitting around for years. But as Facebook points out, that content may very well have also been unviewed that whole time. It’s hard to imagine a terrorist recruitment post going unreported for 970 days (the median age for content in Q1) if it was seeing any kind of traffic.

Perhaps more importantly, the numbers of newer content removed (with, to Facebook’s credit, a quickly shrinking delay) appear to be growing steadily. In Q1, 1.2 million items were removed; in Q2, 2.2 million; in Q3, 2.3 million. User-reported content removals are growing as well, though they are much smaller in number — around 16,000 in Q3. 99 percent of it, Facebook proudly reports, is removed “proactively.”

Something worth noting: Facebook is careful to avoid positive or additive verbs when talking about this content, for instance it won’t say that “terrorists posted 2.3 million pieces of content,” but rather that was the number of “takedowns” or content “surfaced.” This type of phrasing is more conservative and technically correct, as they can really only be sure of their own actions, but it also serves to soften the fact that terrorists are posting hundreds of thousands of items monthly.

The numbers are hard to contexualize. Is this a lot or a little? Both, really. The amount of content posted to Facebook is so vast that almost any number looks small next to it, even a scary one like 14 million pieces of terrorist propaganda.

It is impressive, however, to hear that Facebook has greatly expanded the scope of its automated detection tools:

Our experiments to algorithmically identify violating text posts (what we refer to as “language understanding”) now work across 19 languages.

And it fixed a bug that was massively slowing down content removal:

In Q2 2018, the median time on platform for newly uploaded content surfaced with our standard tools was about 14 hours, a significant increase from Q1 2018, when the median time was less than 1 minute. The increase was prompted by multiple factors, including fixing a bug that prevented us from removing some content that violated our policies, and rolling out new detection and enforcement systems.

The Q3 number is two minutes. It’s a work in progress.

No doubt we all wish the company had applied this level of rigor somewhat earlier, but it’s good to know that the work is being done. Notable is that a great deal of this machinery is not focused on simply removing content, but on putting it in front of the constantly growing moderation team. So the most important bit is still, thankfully and heroically, done by people.

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SiriusXM’s new satellite radio plan is made for two-car households

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Many cars now come with Bluetooth support, which means satellite radio service is less relevant than ever. Despite that, SiriusXM is still a thing and for those who prefer the satellite radio experience while driving, it has a new plan called Platinum VIP. The new plan offers service for two cars, including streaming access, under a single rate.

SiriusXM is best known for its satellite radio service, which provided drivers in the pre-smartphone era with high-quality audio content, including music and radio shows, for their commutes. Though the company has since launched a streaming service that competes with alternatives like Spotify, it still offers satellite radio for those who have a car radio system that supports it.

There are some advantages that SiriusXM offers drivers, namely that you don’t need to mess with your phone at any point and can instead access and control it the way you would old-school radio. As well, SiriusXM has a large library of exclusive content and more niche offerings like talk shows and sports broadcasts.

If you’re someone who owns two cars — or lives with someone who has their own car — and you find value in satellite radio, SiriusXM has a new plan for you. Platinum VIP is priced at $35/month and provides simultaneous access to both the satellite radio service and the company’s streaming app for two cars/users.

As expected, customers get access to the ad-free experience, plus the Platinum VIP plan includes two Howard Stern channels, access to Pandora stations, the company’s original podcasts, a variety of sports content including play-by-play for major games, exclusive comedy bits, and more.

These offerings are joined by what SiriusXM calls “VIP perks,” including access to around 5,000 live concert recordings and videos via Nugs.net. These subscribers also get priority customer service calls. Platinum VIP joins the other newly renamed plans, including Platinum, Music & Entertainment, Music Showcase, and Choose & Save.

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Lucasfilm hires Star Wars fan behind Luke face fix

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The creators of Star Wars at Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) and Lucasfilm aren’t shy about the fact that they employ fans of their most popular creations. After so many decades of creating Star Wars, it was inevitable that Lucasfilm would eventually be working with professionals that grew up watching Star Wars as a kid. This week, we have a friendly reminder that the dream is real: A creative film and special effects individual that went by the name “Shamook” was hired by Lucasfilm after he created his own take on a scene from The Mandalorian.

In the final (pre-credits) scene in The Mandalorian Season 2, we see a digitally-retargeted Mark Hammill performance, de-aged and fixed to look like Luke Skywalker just a short period after the events of Return of the Jedi. The result was fantastic, amazing, mind-blowing, and all that good stuff. But it wasn’t perfect.

Shamook saw what they did with this scene and took it upon himself to digitally edit the scene to make it just a BIT better. Below you’ll see that edited scene.

This update to the scene makes Luke Skywalker look just a bit more like his Return of the Jedi self. It pushes the performance over the edge – to a place where it feels natural enough that it’s apparent that it caught the eye of someone at Industrial Light and Magic. It’s become clear here and now that Shamook was hired by Lucasfilm after the release of that video.

In comments on a different video on his YouTube Channel for Deepfakes, Shamook revealed that he’d joined ILM/Lucasfilm “a few months ago” (a few months before he revealed the hiring in a commend made in early July, 2021). He added, “now I’ve settled into my job, uploads should start increasing again.” He also revealed that his role with ILM is “Senior Facial Capture Artist.”

It’s quite likely that future Star Wars projects won’t shy away from using tech like this again, in the very near future. Imagine what we’ll see in the Obi-Wan Kenobi show on Disney+, or The Book of Boba Fett, or the Lando show – the possibilities are endless!

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Android 12 Beta 3.1 released with major loopy issue fixes

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There’s a new Android update available today, Beta style, just so long as you’re part of the Android Beta program with Google. If you are a part of that program – open to the public, mind you – you’ll likely see a software update to Android 12 Beta 3.1 today. This update works with build SPB3.210618.016 with the usual x86 (64-bit), ARM (v8-A) emulator support, with a July 2021 security patch and Google Play services version 21.24.13, with API 31 for developers.

If you’re already using a device that’s running Android 12 Beta 3, you’ll more than likely see this update to your smartphone this afternoon. The update includes mainly bug fixes, but also adds stability to the build in a wide variety of places. You won’t likely notice any major difference in this software VS the previous most-recent release unless you’ve noticed one of a series of bugs that’ve been fixed.

SEE TOO: Android 12 Beta 3 released: Here’s what’s exciting

This update fixes an issue that caused Android low memory killer daemon (lmkd) to kill processes like a wild maniac. This update fixes an issue “that sometimes caused the System UI to crash.” If you’ve noticed your device getting stuck in the dreaded boot loop of death since the most recent update, this update should… fix that… if you’ve found a way to get out of the loop, of course.

For those of you that’ve never gotten your phone stuck in an “boot loop”, it’s essentially like it’s starting up, getting to the point where you’d expect to be able to interact with it, then oops! It’s starting again, getting to that point where you think you’ll be able to start using it… and so on. It’s an issue that occurs from time to time, and doesn’t necessarily mean the device is broken or useless – but it’s not always easy to fix.

If you own a Google Pixel smartphone released in the last couple of years, there’s a good chance you’ll have access to this Android 12 Beta 3.1 build. Take a peek at release notes for this build if you’re interested in getting far more in-depth as a developer or an Android enthusiast. There are also a variety of other brand phones that can access this Android 12 Beta 3.1 now, as it was with the Android 12 Beta earlier this year.

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