Facebook Accidentally Censors Local News

Facebook came under fire again this week for mistakenly blocking content. First, the company pulled a post from the Anne Frank Center that included an image of nude Holocaust survivors. Now a new report from WIRED details the harmful effects that can occur when the social media giant accidentally blocks small local news outlets.

According to the report, a woman named Danielle Bostick created a Facebook page last month called “Justice for Francesca.” The page is meant to raise awareness for her daughter’s case, who was sexually assaulted by a classmate last summer. However, when Bostick tried to share content from a local newspaper about her daughter, Facebook marked them as spam or abuse. Only after WIRED reached out to Facebook did the links become shareable again.

“We maintain a set of anti-spam systems to identify potentially harmful links and stop them from spreading in an effort to help keep spam off of Facebook,” Facebook said in a statement. “In this case, our automated systems incorrectly blocked these links.”

Of course, problems like this have just become par for the course for Facebook. The more that the site relies on artificial intelligence to police content, the more unfortunate censorship mistakes like this will be made. “They can say their system is not perfect, but what is their system?” Bostick said. “There doesn’t seem to be a human element.”