Facebook hit by software bug which marked coronavirus posts as spam

Facebook hit by software bug which marked coronavirus posts as spam

Facebook has confirmed a bug in its spam filter removed posts incorrectly from the social network, including legitimate news articles about coronavirus.

Multiple users reported receiving alerts from Facebook saying their posts – often news stories from trusted sources about the spread of Covid-19 – had been marked as spam by the site and taken down.

Facebook’s Guy Rosen then confirmed on Twitter that the issue was “a bug in an anti-spam system”.

He denied suggestions the issue had been caused by Facebook relying more on artificial intelligence and automation for content moderation after it sent staff home as part of social distancing efforts to stop the spread of the virus.

Shortly afterwards, Mr Rosen – the social network’s vice president of integrity – said the issue had been 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 said.

“This was an issue with an automated system that removes links to abusive websites, but incorrectly removed a lot of other posts too.”

The incident comes after Facebook joined with other tech giants, including Google, Microsoft and forums such as Reddit to commit to working together to fight the virus.

The firms said they would help people stay connected during social distancing as well as work together to fight disinformation, fraud and conspiracy theories linked to the outbreak.

Neighbourhood connection app Nextdoor has also updated its flagging tool so that any posts which are flagged as misleading and are linked to Covid-19 are reviewed immediately by its content moderation team.

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024

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