If you tried to post a link to political and financial blog Zero Hedge on Facebook earlier this week, you may have been surprised to find that not only did it not load, but that Facebook outright claimed links to the site violated its community standards.
Although the blog provides relatively mild financial and political commentary, most articles are authored by a user writing under the name and picture of “Fight Club” protagonist Tyler Durden.
Zero Hedge is also a frequent critic of Facebook.
In one instance, the blog called out what it described as the embarrassing “millennial exodus” of Facebook, in which a large chunk of users abandoned and even deleted their accounts on Mark Zuckerberg’s platform.
The social media giant’s blackout on Zero Hedge was quickly noticed by many, who took to Twitter to voice their concern. Many reported being greeted by the same explanation when trying to post a link to the blog.
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
— Ollie Richardson (@O_Rich_) March 11, 2019
Facebook, often in critics’ crosshairs for its censorship of conservative voices, was quickly hit by users demanding answers.
Among them was the first son, Donald Trump Jr., who questioned which “community standard” the links violated.
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
After the furor, including Trump Jr.’s post, Facebook eventually backed down on the ban, blaming it on an error.
“This was a mistake with our automation to detect spam and we worked to fix it yesterday,” a Facebook spokesman said, according to Breitbart.
“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.”
According to Facebook’s own numbers, the company has over 35,000 employees. It’s entirely possible that someone along the line made a mistake in an algorithm and ended up blacklisting an entire domain.
But we also know algorithms, as complex data-driven programs, take the input of multiple people and teams all working carefully together.
This brings up the question: Would this algorithm misfire and block a liberal site?
It’s entirely possible that an algorithm designed to stop news from certain sites is a result of Facebook’s critical role in the 2016 election.
After Donald Trump’s upset victory over Hillary Clinton, mainstream media sources were quick to point to the social media giant as the catalyst for the left’s loss.
The Washington Post was still compiling lists on the subject well into 2018, complete with a reference to fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.
If this is the thinking Facebook is using to mold its algorithms and employee culture, then 2020 is shaping up to look more like information warfare than a presidential election.
Scroll down to the comments and tell us what you think.