Facebook's anti-spam system bug deleted coronavirus posts from reputable news sources

Facebook logo on a Pixel 4 XL
Facebook logo on a Pixel 4 XL (Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Facebook spent the night deleting coronavirus posts that were wrongly designated spam.
  • That's because of a bug in its anti-spam system.
  • Posts from sources such as BBC News were marked as misleading or containing false advertisement.

A bug in Facebook's anti-spam system has caused posts about the coronavirus pandemic from reputable news sources such as the BBC to be deleted overnight.

As reported by BBC News:

Facebook has said that a software issue was responsible for posts on topics including coronavirus being wrongly marked as spam.The social media giant's head of safety said: "This is a bug in an anti-spam system."The statement was in response to widespread complaints from Facebook and Instagram users.It came a day after the firm said contract workers who review content would be sent home due to the outbreak.

Facebook Delete Covid

Source: Stephen Warwick/iMore (Image credit: Source: Stephen Warwick/iMore)

Facebook's Guy Rosen took to Twitter to advise users:

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.

He then confirmed early this morning that posts that were incorrectly removed that been restored:

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.

Reports note that articles affected included stories from BBC News, Times of Israel, Axios and The Atlantic. Facebook has sent home most of its contract workers who monitor content due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. In a blog post, it noted that it was "prepared" for the situation, however, it admitted that "there may be some limitations to this approach" and that it could see "more mistakes as a result".

Stephen Warwick