During a time when valid news is so incredibly important, Facebook was unfortunately dogged by a bug in its content moderation software. Most of the stories contained facts regarding the spread of the coronavirus, so really not a great time to have a spam detecting bot go haywire, right?
Facebook isn’t exactly known for having the best content moderation available on its site. Given the enormous user base and the overwhelming amount of content posted onto the social media site every day it makes sense that some posts would slip through the cracks. While that’s certainly not good it’s just an accepted reality of using Facebook. Yet that very same moderation problem became even worse over the past day as Facebook was noted to be marking valid news articles as spam and removing them from the platform.
Incredible. @Facebook said my post of this Dallas Morning News article highlighting that two people in their 20s and 30s are in critical care in Dallas County and that young people aren’t invincible went against their guidelines and was removed.https://t.co/HqoIdzzcSi
— Kathryn Watson (@kathrynw5) March 17, 2020
Noticed by a whole bunch of people who then posted their complaints on Twitter, the issue was very quickly picked up by Guy Rosen, the Vice President of Integrity (seriously) for Facebook. “…this is a bug in an anti-spam system, unrelated to any changes in our content moderator workforce. We’re in the process of fixing and bringing all these posts back. More soon.” tweeted out Rosen.
Following an article first published by The Verge, the software bug has reportedly been taken care of as Rosen once again took to Twitter to follow up on the problem. “We’ve restored all the posts that were incorrectly removed, which included posts on all topics – not just those related to COVID-19. This was an issue with an automated system that removes links to abusive websites, but incorrectly removed a lot of other posts too.”
While the issue was no doubt solved swiftly, it’s certainly not a great time to be plagued by such a problem that just a couple months ago Facebook announced a policy to remove all false and unverified content on the coronavirus as well as even more recently vowing to help combat fraud and the spreading of misinformation regarding COVID-19.