Internal Bug Promoted Problematic Content on Facebook

Facebook News allows users to access news on the US social media giant’s platform. (AFP)
Facebook News allows users to access news on the US social media giant’s platform. (AFP)
TT

Internal Bug Promoted Problematic Content on Facebook

Facebook News allows users to access news on the US social media giant’s platform. (AFP)
Facebook News allows users to access news on the US social media giant’s platform. (AFP)

Content identified as misleading or problematic were mistakenly prioritized in users' Facebook feeds recently, thanks to a software bug that took six months to fix, according to tech site The Verge.

Facebook disputed the report, which was published Thursday, saying that it "vastly overstated what this bug was because ultimately it had no meaningful, long-term impact on problematic content," according to Joe Osborne, a spokesman for parent company Meta.

But the bug was serious enough for a group of Facebook employees to draft an internal report referring to a "massive ranking failure" of content, The Verge reported.

In October, the employees noticed that some content which had been marked as questionable by external media -- members of Facebook's third-party fact-checking program -- was nevertheless being favored by the algorithm to be widely distributed in users' News Feeds.

"Unable to find the root cause, the engineers watched the surge subside a few weeks later and then flare up repeatedly until the ranking issue was fixed 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 Feed are not eligible to be down-ranked in the first place," Osborne explained, adding that other mechanisms designed to limit views of "harmful" content remained in place, "including other demotions, fact-checking labels and violating content removals."

AFP currently works with Facebook's fact checking program in more than 80 countries and 24 languages. Under the program, which started in December 2016, Facebook pays to use fact checks from around 80 organizations, including media outlets and specialized fact checkers, on its platform, WhatsApp and on Instagram.

Content rated "false" is downgraded in news feeds so fewer people will see it. If someone tries to share that post, they are presented with an article explaining why it is misleading.

Those who still choose to share the post receive a notification with a link to the article. No posts are taken down. Fact checkers are free to choose how and what they wish to investigate.



Apple's App Store Rules Breach EU Tech Rules, EU Regulators Say 

16 September 2023, US, New York: The Apple logo, taken at the Apple Store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan. (dpa)
16 September 2023, US, New York: The Apple logo, taken at the Apple Store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan. (dpa)
TT

Apple's App Store Rules Breach EU Tech Rules, EU Regulators Say 

16 September 2023, US, New York: The Apple logo, taken at the Apple Store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan. (dpa)
16 September 2023, US, New York: The Apple logo, taken at the Apple Store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan. (dpa)

Apple's App Store rules breach EU tech rules known as the Digital Markets Act (DMA) because they prevent app developers from steering consumers to alternative offers, EU antitrust regulators said on Monday.

The European Commission, which also acts as the EU antitrust and technology regulator, said it had sent its preliminary findings to Apple following an investigation launched in March.

The EU executive said it was also opening an investigation into the iPhone maker over its new contractual requirements for third-party app developers and app stores.

It singled out Apple's three business terms.

"None of these business terms allow developers to freely steer their customers. For example, developers cannot provide pricing information within the app or communicate in any other way with their customers to promote offers available on alternative distribution channels," the EU watchdog said.