Incident 317: Bug in Facebook’s Anti-Spam Filter Allegedly Blocked Legitimate Posts about COVID-19

Description: Facebook was reported by users for blocking posts of legitimate news about the coronavirus pandemic, allegedly due to a bug in an anti-spam system.
Alleged: Facebook developed and deployed an AI system, which harmed Facebook users posting legitimate COVID-19 news and Facebook users.

Suggested citation format

Dickinson, Ingrid. (2020-03-17) Incident Number 317. in Lam, K. (ed.) Artificial Intelligence Incident Database. Responsible AI Collaborative.

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Incident Reports

Facebook is wrongly blocking news articles about the coronavirus pandemic

Facebook is blocking users from posting some legitimate news articles about the novel coronavirus in what appears to be a bug in its spam filters.

On Tuesday, multiple Facebook users reported on Twitter that they found themselves unable to …


A "variant" is an incident that shares the same causative factors, produces similar harms, and involves the same intelligent systems as a known AI incident. Rather than index variants as entirely separate incidents, we list variations of incidents under the first similar incident submitted to the database. Unlike other submission types to the incident database, variants are not required to have reporting in evidence external to the Incident Database. Learn more from the research paper.