Facebook DIY Coronavirus Facemasks

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Facebook apologizes for flagging groups trying to donate DIY facemasks

The social media giant said AI mistakenly flagged groups and pages.

Apr 6, 2020, 9:55 am*

Tech

Andrew Wyrich 

Andrew Wyrich

Facebook admitted it made a mistake when it threatened to ban users posting about do-it-yourself coronavirus facemasks to donate to healthcare workers.

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CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

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The social media giant said an automated system set up to prevent the sale of facemasks needed by medical works amid the coronavirus emergency flagged users who were coordinating campaigns to sew masks and donate them, according to the New York Times.

Several organizations told the newspaper that their Facebook pages and groups—including one page that has garnered more than 3,500 subscribers—were flagged by Facebook over the past several days.

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The flagging was a mistake, Facebook told the Times.

“The automated systems we set up to prevent the sale of medical masks needed by health workers have inadvertently blocked some efforts to donate supplies,” the social media giant told the paper. “We apologize for this error and are working to update our systems to avoid mistakes like this going forward. We don’t want to put obstacles in the way of people doing a good thing.”

Healthcare workers across the United States have reported a shortage of facemasks as they handle a surge of victims from the coronavirus. In the wake of the shortage, there has been a push among DIY enthusiasts to make their own and donate them.

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Last week, the Center For Disease Control (CDC) recommended Americans wear cloth face coverings in places where they cannot social distance themselves, especially in hotspots of coronavirus. It has also posted tutorials for sewn facemasks and ones that can be made out of a T-shirt.

You can read all of the New York Times report here.

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*First Published: Apr 6, 2020, 9:51 am