Facebook glitch marks coronavirus posts as spam

Social media users, already tense because of the coronavirus outbreak, had another reason to be stressed Tuesday.

A glitch in Facebook’s anti-spam system caused the social media platform to accidentally mark posts and links about the coronavirus as spam, a company official said. Users who posted about school closings, store information and other issues related to COVID-19 were blocked by Facebook’s automated system, according to The Associated Press.

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Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of integrity, went on Twitter to explain the bug was caused by “an issue with an automated system that removes links to abusive websites, but incorrectly removed a lot of other posts too.”

“We’ve restored all the posts that were incorrectly removed, which included posts on all topics - not just those related to COVID-19,” Rosen tweeted.

Rosen said the issue was not caused by Facebook’s decision to send home the contract workers who review content on the site, The Hill reported.

Rosen’s comment was in response to a tweet by Alex Stamos, Facebook’s former security chief, who intimated the problem was caused by moderators’ inability to work from home because of privacy issues..

“It looks like an anti-spam rule at FB is going haywire,” Stamos tweeted. "We might be seeing the start of the (machine learning) going nuts with less human oversight.”

Facebook issued a joint statement with Google, YouTube, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Reddit and Twitter, detailing coordination efforts regarding COVID-19, Variety reported.

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“We’re helping millions of people stay connected while also jointly combating fraud and misinformation about the virus, elevating authoritative content on our platforms, and sharing critical updates in coordination with government healthcare agencies around the world,” the companies said.