Facebook has blamed a bug in its systems for blocking the posting of content about coronovirus which has affected a number of genuine news sites including the BBC.
As early as the beginning of April, facebook revealed on its blog that it was taking several measures across its apps to help people connect with legitimate sources of information surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
The blog post was updated on May 16th to inform readers that
“During the month of April, we put warning labels on about 50 million pieces of content related to COVID-19 on Facebook, based on around 7,500 articles by our independent fact-checking partners”.
Reports state that users have complained that articles from news organisations were being flagged for violating the facebook’s community guidelines. But it seems that facebook has been a little overzealous in its approach with credible news sites including the BBC, The Atlantic, and The Independent, also being affected.
It should be noted that Facebook has taken positive steps to help connect people to credible information and advice through the use of pop-ups across its facebook and instagram platforms, as the post reveals that
“We’ve now directed over 2 billion people to resources from the WHO and other health authorities through our COVID-19 Information Center and pop-ups on Facebook and Instagram with over 350 million people clicking through to learn more.”
We know that a series of high profile campaign of fake news have put facebook in the awkward position and at the centre of controversy but perhaps now they have gone too far in their attempts to control the content posted on the platform
It is another example of the importance of getting your message right at this time, but also highlights that even with good intentions, you may still fall foul of the countermeasures put in place by facebook and other platforms