The Facebook news feed spam filter was malfunctioning on Wednesday, which has resulted in legitimate news articles being marked as spam. But Facebook has said its just a bug, which has now been fixed.|
Reports on Twitter indicated a significant proportion of these posts were related to coronavirus and that important news was being deleted.
However, it's not just COVID-19 posts that were filtered out, but news articles in general. It's possible that the large number of posts being written about COVID-19 at the moment, and therefore the deletion of them, makes it seem like the subject was being targeted by the spam filter.
I don’t know if there is a cyberattack on Facebook right now or what but they are removing hundreds of posts with valuable COVID-19 info and links to government resources because they are being reported as “spam”. FFS, Facebook. GET. IT. TOGETHER. pic.twitter.com/SxlN6VJvBR
— Kathleen Smith (@KikkiPlanet) March 17, 2020
— Marsha Warfield (@MarshaWarfield) March 17, 2020
@elbuder - tell you know that @Facebook just removed the link I posted to your recent article in @TheAtlantic . "Your post goes against our Community Standards on spam," is the reason they gave. Upsetting that this important communication is considered by anyone as spam. pic.twitter.com/iYjgbXQNYB
— VJ Um Amel (@vj_um_amel) March 17, 2020
One Twitter user theorised that this issue began after Facebook allegedly sent moderators home on Tuesday.
It looks like an anti-spam rule at FB is going haywire. Facebook sent home content moderators yesterday, who generally can't WFH due to privacy commitments the company has made. We might be seeing the start of the ML going nuts with less human oversight. https://t.co/XCSz405wtR
— Alex Stamos (@alexstamos) March 17, 2020
Facebook's Vice President of Integrity, Guy Rosen, responded to this tweet and refuted the claim. Rosen said there is a bug in the anti-spam system and that the issue is unrelated to Facebook's moderators.
Rosen also stated that Facebook is working to get the impacted posts back up on the platform.
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. More soon.
— Guy Rosen (@guyro) March 17, 2020
Fortunately the issue has now apparently been fixed, so news feed posts should return to normal.
"We've restored all the posts that were incorrectly removed, both related to COVID-19 and not. This was an issue in our automated systems to remove spammy links from being shared on Facebook," said Facebook's Head of Communications in Australia, Antonia Sanda, in an email to Gizmodo Australia.
Back in January Facebook, along with Google and other social media platforms, announced it would get rid of conspiracy theory posts about COVID-19.
For the first time in Australia's history, the government has urged Australians not to travel anywhere overseas in response to the coronavirus outbreak.