Earlier this week Facebook and a number of other tech firms stated their position regarding misinformation about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and steps that would be taken to tackle this issue. As it turns out a bit more fine tuning is needed, as users have found that legitimate news stories are incorrectly being marked as spam on the platform.
It was discovered last night, with some users taking to Twitter to query the issue. Facebook’s VP for integrity, Guy Rosen, responded on Twitter, noting that the firm is aware of the issue.
It is related to a software bug in the anti-spam system of the platform he explained, adding that a fix was on the way, along with making sure those incorrectly marked stories return too.
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
Rosen took to Twitter again in the early hours of this morning to provide an update, stating that the incorrectly removed posts have been restored. He also said that the anti-spam bug affected all stories on the site, not only those related to COVID-19. Furthermore the issue revolved around an aspect of software which removed links to abusive websites, but it did not perform as designed, removing a number of other posts as well.
We’ve restored all the posts that were incorrectly removed, which included posts on all topics – not just those related to COVID-19. This was an issue with an automated system that removes links to abusive websites, but incorrectly removed a lot of other posts too.
— Guy Rosen (@guyro) March 18, 2020
Thankfully the issue has been addressed, and it looks like Facebook is on top of the problem. Regardless though it does cast a slight spectre of doubt when future posts are marked as spam. Either way, at the very least, it forces users to further scrutinise the content they see online, which is always a good thing in our opinion.