Facebook was on Tuesday found to be erroneously marking posts linking to many news articles, including those about the coronavirus pandemic, as spam and deleting them. A senior official of the social media company attributed it to a “bug in an anti-spam system”, which was resolved later.
The problem was reported by several Twitter users and the technology news website The Verge. Some such posts shared by users showed that Facebook had marked them as being against its community standards.
One user speculated that the automated anti-spam mechanism of Facebook was “going haywire” because the company had sent its content moderators home – due to the pandemic – but they could not work remotely due to privacy policies. However, the company denied this was the reason.
Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of integrity, tweeted after the matter was raised: “We’re on this – 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.”
Less than two hours later, Rosen tweeted that the posts that were incorrectly removed were not just related to COVID-19, and had now been restored. According to The Verge, he said that the problem was with an automated moderation tool and was not related to any changes to its moderator workforce.
“This was an issue with an automated system that removes links to abusive websites, but incorrectly removed a lot of other posts too,” he tweeted.
The incident came a day after a group of technology companies in the United States, including Facebook, said they were joining together to fight fraud and misinformation related to the coronavirus.