Facebook is wrongly blocking news articles about the coronavirus pandemic

  • Facebook on Tuesday was blocking users from posting some legitimate news articles about the novel coronavirus in what appeared to be a bug in its spam filters.
  • “We’re on this – this is a bug in an anti-spam system, unrelated to any changes in our content moderator workforce,” the company’s vice president of integrity, Guy Rosen, tweeted. “We’re in the process of fixing and bringing all these posts back.”
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Facebook is blocking users from posting some legitimate news articles about the novel coronavirus in what appears to be a bug in its spam filters.

On Tuesday, multiple Facebook users reported on Twitter that they found themselves unable to post articles from certain news outlets including Business Insider, BuzzFeed, The Atlantic, and The Times of Israel. It’s not clear exactly what had gone wrong, and Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.

In the face of the mounting COVID-19 pandemic, Facebook has sent many of its content moderators home, saying it will rely more on automated software instead. Alex Stamos, an outspoken former Facebook security executive, speculated that this shift might be to blame.

“It looks like an anti-spam rule at FB is going haywire,” he wrote on Twitter. “Facebook sent home content moderators yesterday, who generally can’t WFH” – work from home – “due to privacy commitments the company has made. We might be seeing the start of the ML” – machine learning – “going nuts with less human oversight.”

Facebook, however, denied that the bug was related to any changes to its content-moderator workforce.

“We’re on this – this is a bug in an anti-spam system, unrelated to any changes in our content moderator workforce,” the company’s vice president of integrity, Guy Rosen, tweeted. “We’re in the process of fixing and bringing all these posts back.”

Here are some of the complaints:

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