The moderation of content on Facebook is always a sensitive issue and in the last few hours it has added a new controversy. According to The Verge, the social network suffered a bug that caused many posts that under normal circumstances would not pass the moderators' filter, such as fake news and violent content, to be shown to the public normally.
The magnitude of the inconvenience was such that six months passed from when it was found until it could be solved. The aforementioned media indicates that the Meta engineers detected the problem in October, but they could only repair it on March 11.
According to Facebook's internal investigation, the bug impacted the system that ranks posts in the main feed. Instead of removing the promotion for posts that moderators had already flagged as inappropriate, the bug caused them to be displayed normally. There was even a 30% increase in the viewing of such posts worldwide.
But what is really striking is that this problem would have been present in Facebook systems for a long time before it was found. The bug apparently dates back to 2019 but went unnoticed by the developers until it started causing visible hiccups.
Facebook content moderation was affected by a bug
The Verge report cites a Facebook spokesperson, who acknowledged the bug and said it has already been fixed. According to the spokesperson in question, the bug has not had a "significant and long-term" impact on the statistics handled by the social network founded by Mark Zuckerberg.
However, this inconvenience has reignited debate regarding the methods and systems that Facebook uses to downgrade the visibility of posts it deems inappropriate. For a long time, the platform presumes that it has more and more technology to combat disinformation; however, it has also been the subject of strong criticism for the serious failures it has shown in recent years when dealing with fake news and malicious content related to politics (Trump and the United States Elections, for example), health (the COVID-19 and anti-vaccines) and many other sensitive issues that came to light with the Facebook Papers.