Facebook says it has deployed a feature in its Community Help hub to make it easier for users to assist each other during the pandemic. As of this week, AI will detect when a public post on News Feed is about needing or offering help and will surface a suggestion to share it on Community Help. Once a post is moved or published directly to the hub, an algorithm will recommend matches between people.
For example, if someone posts an offer to deliver groceries, they’ll see recommendations within Community Help to connect with people who recently posted about needing this type of assistance. Similarly, if someone requests masks, AI will surface suggested neighbors who recently posted an offer to make face coverings.
Building this Community Help feature, which Facebook says is available in all countries in English and 17 other languages, involved a difficult engineering challenge because the system needs to make recommendations even when semantic structures in posts are very different. (For example, consider “Does anyone have masks for kids?” and “We can donate face coverings of any size.”) The feature also needs to go beyond existing candidate-matching logic to incorporate general statements like “I can lend a hand to anyone!”
Facebook says it built and deployed the matching algorithm using XLM-R, its natural language understanding model that produces a score ranking how closely a request for help matches offers in a community. XLM-R, which has 550 million parameters (variables internal to the model that fine-tune its predictions), was trained on 2.5 terabytes of webpages and can perform translations among roughly a hundred different human languages.
The system integrates posts’ score into a set of models trained on PyText, an open source framework for natural language processing. People needing or offering help receive matches through an overlay that suggests