Yesterday, Facebook users reported that the website's search function began suggesting autofills of their searches that included sexually explicit phrases. After typing "videos of," the predictive search feature suggested phrases like "videos of sexuals" and "videos of little girl giving oral." Facebook users posted screenshots of their searches on Twitter. According to the Guardian, users also reported other search suggestions that strayed from those typically offered by Facebook search like "zodwa wabantu videos and pics," which refers to a South African celebrity, and "cristiano ronaldo hala madrid king video call."
@facebook @fbnewsroom @fbanalytics @fbOpenSource #Facebook #ChildAbuse FACEBOOK.This top 1st trending topic is popping up for every1 who types in "Search of", why is that? I am SO close 2 4ever deleting my account allowing pedofiles 2 use FB as a tool 2 distribute child porn 😡 pic.twitter.com/ysCkqzWf50— Keisha 👩🏼💻 (@FollowKeisha) March 16, 2018
Very normal predictions when you type "video of" in Facebook's search bar pic.twitter.com/6jm0j696O0— Eric Morrow 🧐 (@morroweric) March 16, 2018
It appears that Facebook quickly fixed the problem and today it released a statement apologizing for the alarming issue. "We're very sorry this happened. As soon as we became aware of these offensive predictions we removed them," the company said. "Facebook search predictions are representative of what people may be searching for on Facebook and are not necessarily reflective of actual content on the platform. We do not allow sexually explicit imagery, and we are committed to keeping such content off of our site."
But this is the second Facebook issue to involve sexual content and children this month. The website recently ran a survey that asked users if adults should be allowed to ask children for sexual pictures. Facebook removed the survey and said in a statement, "We have prohibited child grooming on Facebook since our earliest days; we have no intention of changing this and we regularly work with the police to ensure that anyone found acting in such a way is brought to justice."
However, Facebook isn't the only major company to let such disturbing search suggestions through. Last year, YouTube came under fire for its predictive search function which also suggested sexual content involving children. Google has also had to address issues with offensive results in both its search and in Maps.
Facebook is looking into why the phrases suddenly began appearing in users' searches and the company says it's working to improve the quality of its suggestions, CNET reports.