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

Facebook (Image credit: iMore)

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

Facebook Delete Covid (Image credit: 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
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9