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March 19, 2020

Posts, coronavirus news hit by anti-spam system glitch 'restored', says Facebook


KARACHI/CALIFORNIA: Some posts, as well as coronavirus-related news, removed earlier from Facebook after its anti-spam system glitched were successfully "restored", the social media giant's safety and integrity head said on Wednesday.

A screenshot showing the warning received by a Facebook user over their post related to Aurat March 2020. Facebook/Screenshot/via

Posts mistakenly taken down by the social media platform also included those pertaining to the Aurat March in Pakistan, among others that had no link to coronavirus.

A Facebook user spoke to, saying they had received a warning after one of their posts related to the Aurat March 2020 had been taken down early Wednesday morning.

"Your post goes against our Community Standards on spam," the warning stated. "We have these standards to prevent things like false advertising, fraud and security breaches."

The Facebook user told that their post was restored later in the day and the notification carrying the warning had also disappeared.

In a Twitter post, Facebook Vice President for Integrity, Guy Rosen, wrote that the company had "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," Rosen added.

COVID-19 is the name given by the World Health Organization (WHO) to the new strain of coronavirus that has left over 8,000 people dead around the world.

Pakistan reported its first two deaths on Wednesday as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra confirmed that both patients — one in Mardan and another in Hangu — had died. The number of nationwide infections, on the other hand, hit 250, with most cases in Sindh.

Rosen also responded to a report on Twitter, saying it was "a bug in an anti-spam system, unrelated to any changes in our content moderator workforce".

According to Time, Facebook users had raised complaints that "links to news stories about school closings and other information related to the virus outbreak [were] being blocked by the company’s automated system".

Most of the Facebook links to news stories were from websites such as Medium, USA Today, and Buzzfeed.