Update 5:15 PM: Sharing ZeroHedge articles now appears to be working again. Perhaps Facebook made another “mistake”…
Update 6:00 PM: Some users are still reporting issues with ZeroHedge links they share being automatically considered spam.
As creepy as Facebook’s algorithms are, they can also be useful.
I go on Facebook mainly to see what news articles my friends are posting. In a sense, I am crowdsourcing part of my job. Because many of my friends are pro-free-market and against government overreach, I end up with some great content just from scrolling my news feed.
Does this mean Facebook has massive insight into the type of content I like to see? Absolutely. And I’ve noticed my news feed become more and more tailored to the type of content I find useful.
(For everyday people, this is creepy. I don’t blame you for avoiding Facebook like the plague. But I make a living in part broadcasting my thoughts and opinions to the world… it would be pretty hard for me to simultaneously expect my political and economic views to remain private.)
So this morning when I logged on, I was surprised to see a post from a friend that said Facebook was automatically blocking links to the finance website ZeroHedge. He shared this screenshot:
Facebook had automatically blocked the URL when it was shared, stating, “This post goes against our community guidelines on spam.”
A commenter confirmed that when he posted the same link, “U.S. Warns Germany To Drop Huawei Or Risk Losing Intelligence Sharing,” he was met with the same spam message.
Curious, I wanted to see if all links to ZeroHedge were blocked, or just this particular link. I shared multiple completely uncontroversial links from ZeroHedge, and every one was met with the same message.
Strangely, when I hit okay, I was met with a message that said, “Thank you for letting us know that you didn’t post this.”
I have no idea why that would come up… The other option was to request a review, which brought this message:
When I tried to post yet another mundane finance article to The Daily Bell Facebook page, it was again automatically blocked.
The Daily Bell is a frequent contributor to ZeroHedge.com so I tried sharing one of our ZeroHedge articles.
That actually worked. I successfully posted two different ZeroHedge “contributor articles” to The Daily Bell page, as well as my personal page.
But again when I went back to share original ZeroHedge content, Facebook automatically blocked the post.
Facebook clearly has an ideological agenda… they don’t want people to see the type of content that ZeroHedge puts out.
But ZeroHedge provides useful insights into the market, and relevant alerts to some of the wildest abuses of the government. Whatever your opinion, it is certainly not spam or “fake news.”
How exactly does Facebook decide what they consider spam? Warnings about market conditions and legitimate criticism of government overreach is valuable content.
But it shouldn’t be surprising… in 2017 CEO Mark Zuckerberg tried to cozy up to the authoritarian Chinese government, helping suppress information about the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. (Facebook has been blocked in China since 2009.)
If Facebook is willing to block information about human rights abuses in China, there is likely no limit to how far they will go to serve other governments to suppress news they find unfavorable.