Typing in ‘video of’ in the Facebook search bar offered suggestions for sexual explicit videos, according to users who noticed the problem.
Facebook’s search bar was accidentally suggesting that users check out sexually explicit videos on Thursday.
Several users noticed the problem when they typed the phrase “video of” into Facebook search. The autocomplete feature ended up suggesting sexually themed videos, including one for child pornography.
“If you type just ‘video of’ into your facebook search bar some very disturbing and horrible things come up….. what the heck @facebook?! Its seriously disgusting,” wrote one user on Twitter.
Facebook has strict rules against such content. On Friday, it apologized for the incident. “We’re very sorry this happened. As soon as we became aware of these offensive predictions we removed them,” the company said in an email.
Autocomplete predictions may show what people are searching for at a given moment, Facebook explained. “We do not allow sexually explicit imagery, and we are committed to keeping such content off of our site,” the company added. “We are looking into why these search predictions appeared, and going forward, we’re working to improve the quality of search predictions.”
The problem isn’t a total surprise. Autocomplete functions have a tendency to produce both offensive and hilarious results. This is because the computer algorithms are simply reflecting what’s popular among users, regardless of how controversial a topic might be. YouTube encountered a similar problem in November.
In Facebook’s case, the company probably forgot to filter out autocomplete searches for not safe for work suggestions. Typing in “video of” into the Facebook search bar currently autocompletes with videos for Republican lawmaker Trey Gowdy, along with an African dancer named “Zodwa Wabantu.”