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Ville de Bitche sees Facebook page restored after blocking
by Paul Hill
In yet another screw-up by Facebook’s overzealous algorithms, the French commune, Bitche, saw its page blocked from the site before being reinstated after the social media firm realised its error, according to a Politico report. It’s not the first time Facebook’s systems messed up this year, in January, Neowin reported that Facebook threatened to shutter a group after someone listed a collection point as Plymouth Hoe, a historical location in the British city, Plymouth.
According to Valérie Degouy, who runs the page, an appeal was made to Facebook on March 19 explaining that Bitche was really the name of the area but received no response and in the meantime messaged the official French Facebook page but it responded saying it could do nothing and that Degouy had to wait for the appeal response.
Despite the appeal being made nearly a month ago, Facebook only reinstated the page following the publication of Politico’s article which highlighted the issue. It raises the question of how many other people are affected by Facebook’s algorithms that wrongly interpret content on the site.
Given the social network’s size, Facebook will likely never abandon its algorithms because they do legitimately shut down and prevent abusive material. However, it does show that Facebook still needs to work on the algorithms to detect obscure cases like this or improve its appeal process.
Users can now appeal to Facebook's Oversight Board to delete content
by João Carrasqueira
Facebook has announced that, starting today, users of either Facebook or Instagram can now appeal to the company's Oversight Board if reported content is left up on the platforms. In October of last year, Facebook had announced that the board was ready to start reviewing cases, but it was limited to appealing content that was removed, if the user disagreed with that decision. Now, if a user reports content and Facebook decides it doesn't go against its Community Standards, the user can request an additional review.
When requesting further reviews by the Oversight Board, users can select a number of reasons for the appeal. For example, they may believe the content goes against the Community Standards, but they may also consider that the Community Standards aren't where they should be, which could potentially prompt Facebook to rework its policies.
Facebook says it had to deal with a lot of questions when it considered opening up the Board for additional reviews, such as how to handle content that is reported by multiple people, potentially for different reasons, or when should the board stop listening to new appeals once it has accepted a case. To address those questions, the company has designed a process that allows multiple appeals to be filed under a single case, linked to the content that's being reported on. Every user who reports that content will have a chance to explain why they believe it should be removed, even if other users have already tried. On the other hand, if a case is accepted, users can continue submitting statements to the Oversight Board up until it begins deliberations.
Another hurdle is privacy, and on that note, Facebook says that reporting users will need to give consent for their identifiable information to be used in a case's file. Finally, there's the matter of communicating with users, to which end the company will update the status of a specific appeal on the Oversight Board's website, whether it be to inform users that a case has been picked up by the board or to tell them the final deliberation on the case.
This step represents an evolution of the Oversight Board's scope, and Facebook promises to continue increasing it over time. Presumably, this should help the social network be a platform that's more up to the users' standards.
By Usman Khan Lodhi
Facebook will pin vaccine information to top of News Feed
by Usman Khan Lodhi
Facebook announced today that it would bring information regarding COVID-19 vaccines to more people, as states are now expanding the eligibility to all adults in the country. The state-specific information, which would be taken from local health departments, would detail how adults can get vaccinated.
The information would be provided in the form of pinned messages at the top of the News Feed, and Facebook is reusing a similar method it used during the U.S. 2020 presidential election since both voting and vaccine rollout are handled by state and local authorities. Adults eligible to get the vaccine will be able to see these notifications across the U.S. and "nearly 20 countries." Facebook stated it would roll out the feature to other countries when they "expand vaccinations." The firm iterated that it has played a pivotal role in sharing vaccine information with its users.
Last week, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's COO, stated that the firm would convert part of its headquarters in Menlo Park into a vaccination center.
Facebook will use its HQ as a vaccination centre, says Sandberg
by Paul Hill
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer (COO), has announced that Facebook will convert part of its Menlo Park headquarters into a vaccination site for “hard-hit communities”. The conversion of part of its HQ will be done in participation with Ravenswood Family Health Network. Sandberg said the firm will also partner with the State of California and local non-profits to support mobile vaccination clinics in four of the state’s hardest-hit regions.
In her post, Sandberg wrote:
Sandberg shared a photo of a COVID-19 board giving directions to the vaccination hub at Menlo Park but she didn’t state whether vaccinations at the HQ have begun to be administered or whether they will start in the coming weeks or months.
Facebook has been playing an active role in trying to get people to go out and be vaccinated. Earlier this month it began encouraging users to get vaccinated through profile picture frames and last month it released a tool that let people know where they could get a coronavirus vaccine.
By Steven P.
Facebook is suffering a worldwide outage [Update]
by Steven Parker
It seems like Facebook is down worldwide as of posting. Upon checking downdetector.com to see if it was just me getting blocked again for posting memes, it seems evident that many people are reporting the outrage right now, with over 18,000 reports in the last 15 minutes:
As you can see from the above image, the spike is rather large. Timestamps in the above image are shown in CET (Central European Time), which means it started happening at around 2:15PM PT / 5:15PM ET / 11:15PM CET.
Right now you get the above when you try to load facebook.com, but as of 11:45PM CET / 2:45PM PT / 5:45PM ET it appears the facebook logo has returned. Although we know there will be some people working on getting services back up, it does seem to be a significant outage.
People are also reporting that Instagram is down, but I can get to it just fine from The Netherlands, I still can't load Facebook. Others are also saying they can load Facebook too, so it appears to be regional, or maybe "just whatever the hell server node you're on!" Who knows?
Update: Aaaand it's back as of 12:05AM CET / 3:05PM PT / 6:05PM ET. Downdetector.com shows reports peaked at just over 157,000 as of half an hour ago at 11:35PM CET / 2:35PM PT / 5:35PM.
Update 2: According to a tweet from Jane Manchun Wong, even Facebook's internal site was down in an outage that also affected Instagram and Whatsapp. But in a later tweet, Wong confirmed that all of these services are now coming back online.