As polls closed in Brazil on Oct. 7, Facebook Inc. data scientists, engineers and policy experts gathered in a new space in the company’s Menlo Park, California, headquarters called the War Room. As they monitored trends on the company’s sites -- like articles that were going viral and spikes in political-ad spending -- they noticed a suspicious surge in user reports of hate speech.
The data scientists in the room told the policy experts that the malicious posts were targeting people in a certain area of Brazil, the poorer Northeast -- the only region carried by the leftist presidential candidate. The policy folks determined that what the posts were saying was against Facebook’s rules on inciting violence. And an operations representative made sure that all of that content was removed.