Facebook's AI tech can spot hate speech by reading text from photos and videos

'Rosetta' system uses machine learning to understand text in images and videos so the social network can monitor hateful content

penguin meme - text being recognised

Facebook has created an artificial intelligence-powered system for reading text from photos, that it will use to spot hateful and inappropriate memes.

The system is called 'Rosetta' and uses machine learning to identify text in images and videos that can be then transcribed into something that is machine readable.

The social network has described the system in great detail in a blog post and say it is being put to use to "automatically identify content that violates our hate-speech policy".

Advertisement - Article continues below

"Understanding the text that appears on images is important for improving experiences, such as a more relevant photo search or the incorporation of text into screen readers that make Facebook more accessible for the visually impaired," Facebook said.

"Understanding text in images along with the context in which it appears also helps our systems proactively identify inappropriate or harmful content and keep our community safe."

Facebook has over two billion users and monitoring all the content posted daily is virtually impossible. However, a significant number of its users (and social media users in general) post content with written text overlaid, such as a meme, and the social network has built and deployed what it calls a "large-scale machine learning system".

Advertisement - Article continues below

The social network giant says the system can extract text from more than a billion public Facebook and Instagram images and video frames, in a number of languages, and then use a text recognition model to understand the context of the text and image together.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Rosetta has been trained on a vast data set of what Facebook calls "human-annotated" public images with text and their locations and also text on wider public images such as posters and menus.

Facebook says that Rosetta has already been widely adopted within various teams at the company and with Instagram, and noted that the text extracted from images is also being used in various machine learning models, such as those to improve its photo searching features.

Featured Resources

Successful digital transformations are future ready - now

Research findings identify key ingredients to complete your transformation journey

Download now

Cyber security for accountants

3 ways to protect yourself and your clients online

Download now

The future of database administrators in the era of the autonomous database

Autonomous databases are here. So who needs database administrators anymore?

Download now

The IT expert’s guide to AI and content management

Your guide to the biggest opportunities for IT teams when it comes to AI and content management

Download now


facebook at work

Facebook launches Messenger app for desktop

3 Apr 2020
social media marketing

What is Facebook advertising and Facebook ads?

23 Jul 2019

Most Popular

Mobile Phones

Microsoft patents a mobile device with a third screen

6 Apr 2020
application programming interface (API)

Apple buys Dark Sky weather app and leaves Android users in the cold

1 Apr 2020

A critical flaw in 350,000 Microsoft Exchange remains unpatched

7 Apr 2020