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Facebook helped US identify Capitol rioters from photos

Sarah Frier
Bloomberg

Facebook Inc. has been “helping” law enforcement identify people who posted photos of themselves at the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol, “even after the attack was over,” said Monika Bickert, the company’s head of global policy management.

Bickert said Facebook removed posts from several militant groups in the lead-up to the violent event and continued to remove content celebrating the riots and planning future violence after Jan. 6. The company said it didn’t use its facial recognition software to help the government identify people, but passed along data in response to requests.

In this Sept. 5, 2018, file photo, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

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In the days following the attack, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said the riots were planned mostly on other social media platforms. But reporters quickly found evidence that Facebook and Instagram, which the company also owns, were mainstream tools for coordinating and spreading the word about the events.

Facebook disclosed the government coordination as part of its Community Standards Enforcement Report, where it also revealed an increased reliance on artificial intelligence in removing content that violates Facebook rules.