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Facebook doing the 'bare minimum' to deal with violent videos, tech investors say

Facebook says it will add 3,000 workers over the next year to monitor sensitive content — but two tech investors said that's it's a "bare minimum" response that won't impact the company's bottom line.

Founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post that new hires would help the company respond more quickly to "people hurting themselves and others on Facebook— either live or in video posted later."

Eric Hippeau, managing partner at Lerer Hippeau Ventures, said that the move shows the shortcoming of relying solely on algorithms.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook.
Source: Facebook
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook.

"What it shows is the algos cannot do the work of a human editor," Hippeau told CNBC's "Squawk Alley" on Wednesday. "It just can't. Because machines can't tell really the difference between one video and another. It can to some degree. But they can't get the murders off the platform via machines."

Several gruesome incidents have been broadcast on Facebook Live, including a Thai man allegedly killing his baby daughter on Facebook then committing suicide. A suspect who posted an alleged murder on the platform was dubbed the "Facebook Killer."

"I think it goes back to the key issue: Is Facebook a tech company or is Facebook a media company? Or is it a tech-enabled media company, like most media companies are today?," Hippeau said. "And Mark Zuckerberg has gone always to great lengths to say he's not a media company, and yet, the 3,000 people he's adding really are editors .... to me, that's a media company."

Google has already had to deal with backlash from its business partners, as advertisers pressed "pause" after a Times of London investigation linked their ads with extremist content. But despite the controversy, Alphabet made even more money than Wall Street expected in the first few months of the year.

Roger McNamee, managing director at tech investing firm Elevation Partners, told "Squawk Alley" on Wednesday that even if Facebook dodges an earnings impact from its new hires, the problem of extreme content will continue to get bigger.

"This is not going to hurt their earnings much. The company is a monopolist in three or four different categories. And it's going to grow really dramatically in its revenues in at least a couple of those businesses," McNamee said. "The challenge I think they face, fundamentally, is that at their level of market share, they've become an issue for personal safety as well as personal privacy. I would be surprised if at some point the European regulators, in particular, didn't start to question the impact of internet monopolies on the rights of citizens. I think Facebook and Google have done has done the bare minimum to deal with this issue. "

Hippeau said that Facebook faces an even greater challenge than YouTube, since its content is more complicated and dispersed.

"I agree that they are doing they are doing the bare minimum," Hippeau said. "If they said to themselves, 'We have media company responsibilities in terms of editing content,' that would change the perception, change the internal view of how they have to deal with this problem."

Still, Zuckerberg wrote on Wednesday that the company is already working on new tools that make the community safer.

"This is important," Zuckerberg wrote. "Just last week, we got a report that someone on Live was considering suicide. We immediately reached out to law enforcement, and they were able to prevent him from hurting himself. In other cases, we weren't so fortunate."