A FACEBOOK bug caused the platform to falsely show users more harmful content for six months.
According to The Verge, content identified as misleading or problematic has been prioritized in users’ feeds when it should have been hidden.
Internal documents show that the software error was identified by engineers and that it took half a year to fix it.
Facebook disputed the report, which was released on Thursday, saying it “greatly overstated this error.”
The bug ultimately had “no significant, 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 author an internal report citing a “massive ranking error” in content.
In October, staff discovered that some content flagged as questionable was still being prioritized by the algorithm for widespread distribution in users’ news feeds.
The content was reported by external media – members of Facebook’s third-party fact-checking program.
“Unable to pinpoint the root cause, engineers watched as the surge leveled off a few weeks later, then flared up again and again until the ranking issue was resolved on March 11,” The Verge reported.
But according to Osborne, the bug affected “only a very small number of views” of content.
That’s because “the overwhelming majority of posts in the feed aren’t inherently eligible for downgrading,” Osborne explained.
He added that other mechanisms aimed at restricting viewing of “harmful” content remained in place, “including other downgrades, fact-checking flags, and removal of infringing content.”
Launched in 2018, Facebook’s fact-checking program aims to identify harmful and misleading content.
Under the program, Facebook pays for the use of fact checks from around 80 organizations, including media outlets and specialist fact checkers, on its WhatsApp platform and on Instagram.
Content classified as “false” is demoted in newsfeeds so fewer people see it.
If someone tries to share this post, they will be presented with an article explaining why it is misleading.
Those who share the post anyway will receive a notification with a link to the article. No posts will be removed.
Fact checkers are free to choose how and what to investigate.
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https://www.the-sun.com/tech/5028283/inside-facebook-bug-more-dangerous-posts/ Inside horror Facebook bug that caused users to see MORE dangerous posts for 6 MONTHS