News & Opinion | March 18, 2020 9:53 am

Facebook Was Marking News Articles About Coronavirus as Spam

The issue was caused by a bug and has since been resolved

Facebook Bans Deepfakes
Facebook was flagging legitimate news articles about coronavirus as spam.
Chesnot/Getty Images

As the news about coronavirus seemingly changes every hour, it’s important that the general public stays informed on the latest recommendations and updates. One way people have been doing that, naturally, is sharing information via social media. But as the Verge reports, folks who were sharing legitimate coronavirus news stories to Facebook had their posts flagged as spam.

Facebook’s vice president of integrity Guy Rosen said the flagging was unintentional and that the company began working on a fix as soon as it became aware of the issue. “We’re on this,” he wrote after a user reported the issue on Twitter. “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.”

By 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday (March 17), Rosen said the issue was resolved. “We’ve restored all the posts that were incorrectly removed, which included posts on all topics — not just those related to COVID-19,” he tweeted. “This was an issue with an automated system that removes links to abusive websites, but incorrectly removed a lot of other posts too.”

The company also joined Google, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit and others in issuing a joint statement on Monday announcing that they are committed to fighting the spread of misinformation about coronavirus. “We are working closely together on COVID-19 response efforts,” the statement reads. “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. We invite other companies to join us as we work to keep our communities healthy and safe.”

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