Over the past few hours, a number of Facebook users, including this writer, witnessed the weird case of legitimate posts being marked spam.
The problem largely revolved around posts linking to information and articles related to coronavirus disease COVID-19 but there were also cases when other news stories from mainstream publications like HuffPost were flagged as spam, with their reach being restricted.
Struggle to share about COVID-19, flurry of complaints
The impact of the problem was such that Facebook users, particularly reporters/researchers/academics, were unable to share important information on COVID-19 with the general public.
A flurry of complaints regarding the issue surfaced on Twitter, with people calling out the social media giant for censoring information about a disease that has infected 2 lakh, killed nearly 8,000 and still continues to spread.
Something really weird is happening on @Facebook. A bunch of coronavirus posts from good sources like Atlantic and Politico are being flagged as spam. Happening to me and others. I'm the moderator of a huge community group, vetting medical info 15 hours a day. FB, don't do this!
While many claimed that Facebook's bots aren't capable enough to handle content moderation with less human oversight (due to COVID-19), Guy Rosen, the social network's VP of Integrity, said the issue had happened due to a bug.
"We are on this," Rosen said, noting that "this is a bug in an anti-spam system, unrelated to any changes in our content moderator workforce."
Nearly two hours after acknowledging the glitch, Rosen tweeted out that the issue has been fixed.
"We've restored all the posts that were incorrectly removed, which included posts on all topics - not just those related to COVID-19," the tweet read. "This was an issue with an automated system that removes links to abusive websites, but incorrectly removed a lot of other posts too."