Inside horror Facebook bug that led to MORE dangerous posts being shown to users for 6 MONTHS
A FACEBOOK bug led to the platform mistakenly showing users more harmful content for six months.
According to The Verge, content identified as misleading or problematic was prioritized in users' feeds when it should have been hidden.
Internal documents show that the software bug was identified by engineers and took half a year to fix.
Facebook disputed the report, which was published Thursday, saying that it "vastly overstated what this bug."
The glitch ultimately had "no meaningful, long-term impact on problematic content," according to Joe Osborne, a spokesman for parent company Meta.
But it was serious enough for a group of Facebook employees to draft an internal report referring to a "massive ranking failure" of content.
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In October, the employees noticed that some content that had been marked as questionable was nevertheless being favoured by the algorithm to be widely distributed in users' News Feeds.
The content was flagged by external media – members of Facebook's third-party fact-checking program.
"Unable to find the root cause, the engineers watched the surge subside a few weeks later and then flare up repeatedly until the ranking issue was fixed on March 11," The Verge reported.
But according to Osborne, the bug affected "only a very small number of views" of content.
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That's because "the overwhelming majority of posts in Feed are not eligible to be down-ranked in the first place," Osborne explained.
He added that other mechanisms designed to limit views of "harmful" content remained in place, "including other demotions, fact-checking labels and violating content removals."
Facebook's fact-checking program launched in 2018 and aims to identify content that is harmful and misleading.
Under the program, Facebook pays to use fact checks from around 80 organisations, including media outlets and specialized fact-checkers, on its platform, WhatsApp and on Instagram.
Content rated "false" is downgraded in news feeds so fewer people will see it.
If someone tries to share that post, they are presented with an article explaining why it is misleading.
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Those who still choose to share the post receive a notification with a link to the article. No posts are taken down.
Fact-checkers are free to choose how and what they wish to investigate.
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