Facebook recently announced that because of the coronavirus, it would have to send many of its content moderators home to work. As a result, the social media giant warned that it may experience problems removing spam and other kinds of offensive content. Now, just a few days later, it would appear as though that’s exactly what’s happening — even as Facebook denies it.
This week, many users began to report that they couldn’t share links to legitimate news sources regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Former Facebook executive Alex Stamos took to Twitter to blast the company for the issue.
“It looks like an anti-spam rule at FB is going haywire,” he wrote. “Facebook sent home content moderators yesterday, who generally can’t [work from home] due to privacy commitments the company has made. We might be seeing the start of the [machine learning] going nuts with less human oversight.”
For its part, Facebook denied that the issue had anything to do with its workforce or censorship of coronavirus-related content, and instead chalked up the problem to a simple bug.
“We’ve restored all the posts that were incorrectly removed, which included posts on all topics — not just those related to COVID-19,” Facebook vice president of integrity Guy Rosen wrote. “This was an issue with an automated system that removes links to abusive websites, but incorrectly removed a lot of other posts too.”
While this is almost certainly a glitch in Facebook’s system, it’s yet further proof that the company has way too much control over the flow of information online.
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