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:

Then I saw famed writer John Scalzi running into similar issues over his blog post mocking some racists on Twitter:

And then there were reports (sure to kick up the conspiracy theories!) that Facebook had blocked a story about Hillary Clinton’s health:

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:

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).

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Companies: facebook

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Comments on “Another Day, Another Problem With Facebook's Random Decisions To Block Content”

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John Cressman (profile) says:

They are censors

Google, Facebook, Apple… all of the major tech companies have their own agenda – in this case, the Leftist agenda.

That’s the way of things. They’re private companies, they can do what they want. Same thing with news outlets.

Objective journalism died a long time ago – if it really ever existed at all.

That said, it would be nice if they – like the left wing media – would at least let people know that’s what they are and that they will be censoring any content that doesn’t adhere to their agenda. Same for the right wing.

It would be nice if some agency rated these companies and media outlets so people knew exactly what they were getting. Most “intelligent” people can figure out immediately by looking at the way they word the headlines , which way they lean.

“Hillary Health Scare A Problem for Election?” – Obvious right wing.

“Hillary Health Conspiracy at it Again” – Obvious left wing.

It’s all about agenda and most of these large companies are starting to flex their muscles to get their agenda to the top – in Google, literally to the top of the search engine. And the average Joe things these things are really trending, being searched, not being searched, etc. because they think these companies are non-biased, non-partisan.

There is no such thing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: They are censors

Explain the left wing bias in blocking a post about racism?
Obviously I’m not from the US, but generally left wing (worldwide) is taken to be anti racism so would expect a post about racism not to be blocked or is there some special pro racism left wing US stance I’m unaware of?
Similarly, as most climate change deniers seem to be of the right wing persuasion, where’s the left wing agenda in blocking a climate change editor post?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: They are censors

Are you the same fool who’s kept posting about “leftists” on every story about the newspaper business recently, or just another one who can’t accept political nuance and has to call everything they don’t like “leftist”. Either way, are you able to have a discussion once questioned about nuance and evidence, or are you just another hit and run poster like the other guy?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: They are censors

“Hillary Health Scare A Problem for Election?” – Obvious right wing….

The first article I saw about Hillary’s health problem at the 9/11 event was by CNN. CNN has not hidden the fact they are in the tank for Hillary.

Stories really get confusing when biased news outlets suddenly realize that “If it bleeds…it leads” stories are what brings in views.

Dave Cortright says:

It's to b e expected...

…that any publishing platform will have biases that not everyone agrees with. The solution is more speech from a diverse set of people on a diverse set of platforms.

Sure, keep calling them out if you feel it’s newsworthy, but to me it’s sort of like reporting on the sun rising again today.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: It's to b e expected...

What’s being called out is how the definition of “newsworthy” has changed. I grew up with B/W TV. Sure enough there was bias back then but the Holy Grail of recognition was a Pulitzer for outstanding journalism and they didn’t care who got hurt in breaking newsworthy stories.

Then along comes CNN and 24hr news cycles. There just isn’t enough ‘facts’ to fill that many hours of TV time and news coverage started to transform. These days “News” is just glorified blogging and tabloid headlines. Journalist no longer seek a Pulitzer…the Holy Grail of today is to be on someone’s A-List.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Define Left Wing

Also, for the AC to be correct, you’d have to ignore the well-documented southern strategy utilised during the civil rights era, which courted racists to switch party affiliation. In other words, the southern Democrats who were racists became Republicans, while those fighting for equality remained Democrats.

For some reason, Republicans seem to ignore this part of history when pretending that Lincoln and the civil rights movement were on their side. It’s a well-worn tactic to fool the ignorant. The fact is, the place of the parties on the political spectrum is not what it was in the 60s.

John Mayor says:


Mike!… and to be completely serious!… I’d like to see a GLOBALLY MANADATED icon on my taskbar, that– when tapped!– will summon (in real time!), a Digital Human Rights intermediary (WITH A GLOBAL MECHANISM AT THE READY!) who is empowered (THAT IS EMPOWERED!) to challenge the slightest breach of Digital Human Rights (e.g., arbitrarily taking down a Comment Log/ Clog on a SAID Public Website!)!… and with all the powers needed to rectify the breach!… and!… who will/ that will hold to account (IN REAL TIME!), the one who/ that which, has made the breach!
Simply put!… netizens should no longer have to wait for some “mysterious process” to be invoked, in order to find justice for Digital Human Rights violations! It’s time for a bit of *SS KICKING!
Please!… no emails!

Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:


John, you won’t get emails from TD unless you ask for them and even then it’s not guaranteed. Sending them your email is not an invitation to spam you, and you’re not obliged to send it.
Secondly, this post is BARELY COHERENT!… and would be more readable (AND LEGIBLE) if you just wrote normally.
As it is, I keep wishing you’d get back on your meds each time I read one of your posts. Sorry, man!… SOMEONE HAD TO SAY IT!

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