In what is definitely some type of Karmic payback for social media companies now appending some type of label to what seems like every other post nowadays, Facebook just found out that its super-duper censoring algorithm also banned advertisements from some struggling businesses, mistaking them as hate speech.
We love it when a plan comes together.
One woman, Ruth Harrigan, who advertises on Facebook to sell her honey and beeswax-based products, told Bloomberg she thought she missed out on an estimated $5,000 in revenue after Facebook mistakenly banned her ads right before black Friday.
She said: “I was getting a little anxious thinking, ‘Oh my God, Black Friday is around the corner, most of my sales for the year happen in November and December and that’s it,'. I said, ‘If I’m shut down any longer than this, it’ll cripple me.’”
The company's "misfiring content-moderation software" was to blame - and it happened in the middle of a pandemic when sellers are more reliant on Facebook and social media advertising to drive business. In fact, Facebook has been censoring so much content this year, it has relied heavily on software to do the job, since they don't have enough human moderators.
And it wasn't just Harrigan that had issues. Sellers like Ivonne Sanchez, who runs a makeup clinic in Ottawa, had her ads blocked too due to a "policy violation". She said: “In the middle of a crucial shopping season, it left us shaken. This experience makes us very nervous about investing dollars into a system that is operated seemingly by a bot.”
Yaniv Gershom, co-founder of digital marketing firm 4AM Media, said a Facebook ban that has lasted 6 months has caused him to have to cut 12 jobs. “The only people who are OK are massive spenders who get a Facebook rep that can escalate issues and find out what’s wrong,” he said.
Justin Brooke, founder of Adskills.com, said: “It just exploded. They turned up the AI recently -- somebody changed something -- and all of the sudden everybody was getting shut down.”
Many other types of businesses saw similar bans, including a coffee delivery service and a reusable water bottle company.
Facebook offered the following half assed comment: “We know it can be frustrating to experience any type of business disruption, especially at such a critical time of the year. While we offer free support for all businesses, we regularly work to improve our tools and systems, and to make the support we offer easier to use and access. We apologize for any inconvenience recent disruptions may have caused.”
Now, back to that Section 230 discussion...