Facebook appears to be marking some posts linking to information and articles about the coronavirus and COVID-19 as spam, as observed by one Verge reporter and many users on Twitter on Tuesday evening. It’s unclear what’s causing the issue. Facebook tells The Verge it is looking into the matter.
Here are a few examples:
Something is going on on Facebook. I’ve seen four separate people in the past couple hours saying their posts about coronavirus were marked as “spam”. And one of them is an epidemiologist.
— Aylan (AY like Day – LAN like LandBack) Couchie (@AylanX) March 17, 2020
— …hello, meow (@shoppurrr) March 17, 2020
Incredible. @Facebook said my post of this Dallas Morning News article highlighting that two people in their 20s and 30s are in critical care in Dallas County and that young people aren’t invincible went against their guidelines and was removed.https://t.co/HqoIdzzcSi
— Kathryn Watson (@kathrynw5) March 17, 2020
It’s possible that the company has recently rolled overly aggressive filters coronavirus-related topics to try and fight misinformation. The company announced that it would remove false claims and conspiracy theories about coronavirus in January, and perhaps this aggressive filtering is a result of a tweak to its automated spam-detection systems.
Facebook also joined Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Reddit, Twitter, and YouTube in publishing a joint statement yesterday committing to fighting coronavirus-related fraud and misinformation.
A new report published by Ranking Digital Rights argued on Tuesday that Facebook’s current approach to moderation may not be able to address the issue of coronavirus-related misinformation on its platform.