City of Vincent turns to automation to handle misinformation and hateful trolls

Through machine learning, compliance issues such as hate speech are automatically flagged for review and account owners are alerted to compromised credentials.

Social media usage has unsurprisingly soared as a result of COVID-19, but in an attempt to counter the spread of misinformation on such platforms, a local council in Western Australia has been taking things into its own hands.

The City of Vincent decided to implement what vendor SafeGuard Cyber has labelled as "advanced digital risk protection". Within the city's official Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube channels, it has crafted custom policies aimed at capturing potential compliance issues and serving them up for review.

Through machine learning, compliance issues such as hate speech are automatically flagged for review and account owners are alerted to compromised credentials.

See also: Facebook says AI has a ways to go to detect nasty memes

During Australia's COVID-19 lockdown-like restrictions, the city experienced severe disruptions, such as the closure of city hall, but it also disrupted telephone and traditional lines of communication.

As a result, according to the city, in the heart of the coronavirus pandemic, it experienced a 24,670% increase in the volume of Facebook messages as residents turned to new ways of seeking information and logging requests.

It said it was important to ensure pressing news and other "correct" information were easy to access. IT teams also needed to ensure that all Facebook interactions were being managed securely and complying with state record-keeping laws.

Most of these messages were requests for city services, and the cityʼs Facebook account was having to act as a makeshift switchboard

"Social media is critical to engaging with the City of Vincent community. It is important that our social media interactions are managed securely, pass technical audit, and maintain state record keeping compliance," City of Vincent executive manager of information and communication technology Peter Ferguson said.

Ferguson said it was important for the city to protect vital communications channels from unauthorised account changes, while ensuring automated compliance via an integration with its existing document management system.

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