Facebook blames a bug for the disappearance of posts about same-sex marriage

Several newspapers say their articles on the topic disappear from the social network

Some recent cases of news articles about same-sex marriage disappearing from the newspaper page on Facebook appear to have been caused by a bug and not a policy violation, the social network said.

Several regional daily newspapers, such as The Mercury serving Pottstown, Pennsylvania, started seeing in late July that stories covering developments on the issue of same-sex marriage were mysteriously disappearing from their pages on Facebook. A post Friday at the website for the Poynter Institute, a journalism education and training center, called attention to the issue.

"In all likelihood this was a bug and not a policy violation," a Facebook spokeswoman said Friday, referring specifically to The Mercury's issues. If it had been a policy violation, the page administrators would have received a notification of the article removals, which they did not, Facebook said.

The circumstances surrounding some of the posts' disappearances are a bit odd. At The Mercury, for instance, online editor Eileen Faust noticed the trend when a local county began issuing licenses to same-sex couples on July 24. Roughly five to six articles disappeared from Facebook after they were posted, she said, but no stories covering other topics disappeared in a similar way.

The articles that disappeared covered news dealing with both support and opposition to same-sex marriage, she said.

The paper has not experienced any major issues with articles disappearing since then, but that may only be because The Mercury has not been posting as many articles on same-sex marriage, Faust said.

"We're going to keep an eye on this," she added in an interview.

The Mercury's posts on same-sex marriage have since been restored to the paper's page on Facebook, the social network said.

Other regional newspaper companies, such as 21st Century Media papers in the Philadelphia region and papers owned by the Los Angeles News Group, have also noticed that their stories on same-sex marriage have disappeared from their Facebook pages, The Mercury reported in its coverage of the issue.

21st Century Media and the Los Angeles News Group could not be immediately reached to comment.

Though The Mercury paper's issues were probably caused by a bug or some kind of glitch, Facebook said, the issue did arise just before the company announced an aggressive new strategy to better detect controversial content on its site that may be violent, graphic or sexual in nature.

Facebook has a complicated way for classifying what is offensive content and what is not. In terms of graphic content, "We understand that graphic imagery is a regular component of current events, but must balance the needs of a diverse community," the site says in its community standards.

The Mercury's Faust said she would like to have a more direct contact at Facebook to communicate with when issues occur. "We can't easily connect or get a response from them," she said.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Internet-based applications and serviceslegalsocial networkingsocial mediainternetsearch enginesFacebook

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zach Miners

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?