Facebook suggests questionable comments on live videos of shootings and sexual assaults


When testing the product, a BuzzFeed News reporter only had to click once on a suggested answer for it to appear in the comments feed for a given live video. Once an answer was selected, the requested comments menu disappeared as an option. It’s unclear when Facebook rolled out the Live Video Quick Response tool, or how widely available it is.

“Facebook has more to worry about right now than rolling out response prompts on live video,” Caroline Sinders, principal designer at Convocation Design+Research, told BuzzFeed News. “And given that it suggests inappropriate responses, I’d say it’s probably best to turn it off now or allow users to turn it off.”

Sinders, a former member of the BuzzFeed Open Lab, explained that delivering automatic responses to live video can be particularly challenging given that current machine learning technology struggles to “see context in the video and audio, just like with text”. For example, since launching live video in December 2015, Facebook has struggled to use algorithms to filter our violent content from users’ feeds.

Facebook’s quick response tool also appeared on the QVC shopping channel’s live video; he suggested users comment “pretty” and “cute” as two hosts showed off a dress. On a livestream of a player playing Battlefield Vthe feature suggested viewers greet others with “yo” and “hey again!”

The most frequent gaffes, however, seemed to occur on the live news segments. During an ABC7 feed of a police chase in Los Angeles, Facebook’s algorithm suggested questionable responses to users, including “Go” and “Okay.”

A source close to NBCUniversal said the company has never seen the prompts before and its news outlets have not accepted them.

“This wins for the most dystopian thing I’ve seen all day (and I live in the smoky bay area where everyone’s wearing masks, so that’s saying a lot),” one person tweeted in response to seeing screenshots of guest replies on Twitter.


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