Facebook is "working to restore" a series of groups that were eliminated or affected by "sabotage" by mistake, according to the company. A spokesperson told The Verge that the social network "removed several Facebook groups after detecting content that violated our policies". After the investigation, he discovered that the content had been "published to sabotage legitimate and non-offending groups." Facebook is working to restore the affected groups and to "prevent this from happening again".
The situation supposedly began on May 13. A popular meme account on Facebook known as Crossovers that nobody asked for (CNAF), which has more than 500,000 members, was suddenly closed. The group administrators tried to group their users into a new group, "Crossovers Nobody Asked For 'Season 2," but it closed a day later.
Know Your Meme reported that CNAF members were able to track the screenshots of a group known as the Indonesian Reporting Commission (IReC) celebrating the withdrawal of the CNAF page, which provoked suspicions among the parties involved. that IReC was behind the attacks. Facebook did not confirm whether the Indonesian Reporting Commission, which suspends the groups and the pages by publishing questionable content and mass reports, was behind the false flags.
The news spread quickly and caused thousands of popular Facebook pages to go from "private" mode to "secret" mode to prevent them from closing. While closed Facebook groups require moderators to approve someone's request to join, secret groups are virtually undetectable. A group moderator has to personally invite someone to join; you can not just search for it
A large number of Facebook users have felt the attack on two high profile groups, although apparently isolated. People complained on Facebook and Twitter about waking up to a series of notifications from various groups to which they belong recognizing the change of state from "private" to "secret". Others have talked about their own groups asking members to be patient while they rest. Facebook users have started calling it "The Great Zuccening of 2019" or, in some cases, "Groupocalypse".
The incident is mainly concentrated in a network of pages and groups of popular memes. But the fear of the suspensions or prohibitions of the hand of the algorithmically driven reporting system of Facebook, supposedly backed by its continuous efforts of artificial intelligence, underscores the vulnerability of the moderation approach of the social network.
Facebook has always had problems with the supervision of the content uploaded by the user. These problems extend to everything from his clumsy attitude towards nudity, which causes popular works of art and famous photographs to be mistakenly knocked down, even his lack of recognition when the immediate viral content, such as the Christchurch shooting, is in a graphic video that violates multiple rules that needs to be uniformly blocked Although this is a relatively anodyne situation involving memes pages, the generalized panic among some of the most active groups and pages on the platform shows how little faith the users have in the ability of the company to anticipate these problems and avoid the consequences, instead of reacting after that.
A group dedicated to BoJack Horseman shitposts posted a link to Know Your Meme explaining the situation, notifying members that they were "doing the impossible". Frank Scarsella, the administrator of the group, told The Verge that he first became aware of what was happening after "several of the pages from which I only started to send these notifications."
] "Some of those" The groups in which I participate were much more likely to be objective, honestly, but I immediately informed my team so we could discuss our own movements, "said Scarsella.
There was a conversation between Scarsella and her moderators when the notification flags of other groups began to recover and they debated whether they should close their own group in response. Most of the team wanted to breathe on the side of caution, Scarsella said, adding that "the comfort of the group is always paramount to me, so to reduce the fear, I decided to close the group."
"Better to be safe than sorry," as Scarsella said, seems to be the reason for the panic on Facebook. The administrative editor of Know Your Meme Don Caldwell thinks that after users started receiving notifications of changes in the status of the group, and then the stories began to spread about a suspicious Facebook group reporting a series of popular pages with hundreds of thousands of members, "people got scared enough".
"All the spam notifications that were sent to all those members, and the rumors that began to spread, were published in those groups, it became important," Caldwell said.
However, there is a problem with changing a group from private to secret. If the state does not change within 24 hours, the group must remain in secret for another 28 days. This is not a big problem for smaller groups created in a united community, something Facebook has recently tried to promote, but it does matter for pages that want to create a membership base. Caldwell could not predict whether the groups will remain secret for some time or return, but people are scared enough to take all precautions. Even Scarsella, who does not think it's likely that "someone in the group will go to a wave of mass reporting," is worried about the possible repercussions.
"The group is a very important community for many people, including myself," said Scarsella. "There is always a concern that the platform can eliminate that community. I would say [we’re] something worried because it seems unlikely, but it would have strong repercussions for us. "
Some of the groups eliminated in the avalanche of original mass reports, including Crossovers Nobody Asked For, have returned to Facebook.