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Facebook says it was a matter of ‘spam detection.’
As Facebook continues to try and police content while the entire world watches, the platform has found itself in a thankless situation (do in very large part to its own ineptitude), where every decision to ban or leave up content will be subjected to widespread criticism.
Earlier this week, it took down ads from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) criticizing Facebook, before restoring them with an apology. Now, it’s under fire for banning finance site ZeroHedge, a decision it blamed on “spam” detection.
Users found that when they tried to share posts by Zero Hedge, they received an error message.
— Ollie Richardson (@O_Rich_) March 11, 2019
The blog is primarily about financial markets and trading, but also covers politics and is popular among the right.
Just this week, President Donald Trump retweeted a post by his son linking to Zero Hedge dismissing Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 election.
The Facebook ban brought out the usual outcry against the tech giant.
The censorship continues. How does @zerohedge’s content not “meet community standards?” FB doesn’t agree with them and they hit the platform’s obvious flaws at times. That’s it and it’s disgusting!
Facebook Bans Zero Hedge | Zero Hedge https://t.co/n6YsFhvFI5
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) March 12, 2019
Facebook has outright banned all posting of Zero Hedge links, one of the biggest non-corporate owned news websites on the Internet (and a frequent critic of Facebook's power). pic.twitter.com/oMX8duQXnB
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) March 11, 2019
So this is what this guy has become…1st Info Wars and now Zero Hedge. Boo hoo. Won't someone think of the poor conspiracy sites. Sure it's under the guise of 1st amendment & slippery slope BS, but it's quite telling what 'threats to journalism' he deems worthy of focus. pic.twitter.com/80Ak873jMI
— Centrism Fan Acct 🔹 (@Wilson__Valdez) March 13, 2019
On Tuesday, Zero Hedge covered the news of the ban on its own site.
Over the weekend, we were surprised to learn that some readers were prevented by Facebook when attempting to share Zero Hedge articles. Subsequently it emerged that virtually every attempt to share or merely mention an article, including in private messages, would be actively blocked by the world’s largest social network, with the explanation that “the link you tried to visit goes against our community standards.”
However, once news of the ban picked up, Facebook reversed course, telling Breitbart it was an error.
This was a mistake with our automation to detect spam and we worked to fix it yesterday. . . . We use a combination of human review and automation to enforce our policies around spam and in this case, our automation incorrectly blocked this link. As soon as we identified the issue, we worked quickly to fix it.”
As pointed out by Warren when her Facebook ads were temporarily removed, unless you have the power to contact Facebook directly or the ability to gin up a large outrage machine, the company can silence whoever they please with minimal recourse.
Know anything about why Facebook banned Zero Hedge? Get in touch: [email protected]
David Covucci is the Layer 8 editor at the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the web. His work has appeared in Vice, the Huffington Post, Jezebel, Gothamist, and other publications. He is particularly interested in hearing any tips you have. Reach out at [email protected]