Yesterday in my Facebook feed, I saw a few of my Friends saying that their Facebook posts had been blocked. One of them had been trying to share an article about the events happening in Baltimore this week. My Friend wondered whether or not Facebook could be censoring posts about the situation.
The thing is, I had seen many, many posts that same day about Baltimore and many other news articles and blog posts on the subject from other Friends I have on Facebook. Facebook's Community Standards are pretty clear when it comes to what it might block. Threats, hate speech, nudity, graphic images and videos, criminal activity and other things like that are typically moderated and removed. That's all in Facebook's terms of service that you agree to when you create an account.
Facebook doesn't, however, censor political speech unless it violates the stated Community Standards. I've seen some pretty controversial and even offensive opinions on Facebook that are 100% in compliance with the Community Standards.
It turns out that others were getting warnings that their links were blocked because the links supposedly included malicious content like viruses and other harmful code. On top of that, this bug was blocking some people from posting ANY link, not just Baltimore-related ones. That didn't sound like censorship to me. That sounded like a bug.
It's true. A software bug was preventing people from posting or sharing links. Facebook has a system that automatically pulls an image from a link and embeds it in the post. You've seen this before when you share articles. The system scans those images for viruses and malicious code. That's what was mistakenly blocking everything by accidentally labeling the links as bad.
Users were complaining about the issue in the Facebook Developers forum. A Facebook employee promised the bug would be fixed, and lo and behold: today it has been!
Bugs like this happen all the time in complex computer code like Facebook's. It's annoying, sure, but it isn't censorship. Facebook doesn't make a secret about what is and isn't allowed. Next time you see somebody complaining about censorship on their Page, you can point them to Facebook's Community Standards page.
Or you could just share this handy article!