Another Day, Another Problem With Facebook's Random Decisions To Block Content
from the broken-systems dept
Last week one of the big stories of the week was Facebook blocking people from posting an iconic photo from the Vietnam War because it showed a young girl, naked, running from an attack. After lots of press and lots of public outcry, Facebook relented and claimed that it would be adjusting its policies. And yet… another week, another set of stories of problems on Facebook. It’s unclear how widespread this is, but on Monday there were suddenly reports (on Twitter, of course) of Facebook randomly blocking perfectly reasonable links. The first example I saw of this was reports that Facebook was blocking this story from The Intercept about Rep. Barbara Lee’s lone vote against the PATRIOT Act (the only member of the House to vote against it) a few days after September 11th. Seems like the kind of story Facebook would appreciate, but:
— Leslie Sharr (@LeslieSharr) September 12, 2016
People saying this entry of mine is blocked by Facebook: https://t.co/4i9NYPY4vD but I can access it just fine on my devices. So, maybe?
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) September 12, 2016
And then there were reports (sure to kick up the conspiracy theories!) that Facebook had blocked a story about Hillary Clinton’s health:
I just tried to post a political article to Facebook about Sec. Clinton's health and why they lied. Facebook blocked it.
— Trey Walpole (@Walpole_III) September 12, 2016
But, on the flip side, someone also reported that trying to post the NY Times job opening for a climate change editor… was also blocked:
— Rodger L Nelson (@rln_nelson) September 12, 2016
I could go digging for more — and there are likely many more examples. This is almost certainly some sort of technical glitch that will be sorted out quickly, if it hasn’t been already. But it still should serve as a reminder, to be wary of putting our faith entirely in 3rd party platforms for our media access, when they have the ability to block at will (or even somewhat arbitrarily when the bots go crazy).