Facebook Anti-Troll System Snagging Ordinary Users

Complaints rang far and wide last week after an automated system for spotting inappropriate Facebook comments began blocking legitimate posts by the social network’s users, including prominent members like Robert Scoble.

Complaints rang far and wide last week after an automated system for spotting inappropriate Facebook comments began blocking legitimate posts by the social network’s users, including prominent members like Robert Scoble.

Facebook users of all stripes have received warnings about posting “irrelevant” or “inappropriate” comments and some have had comments blocked outright in recent weeks. However, the company has been mum on the cause of the incidents. 

Reports of blocked comments on Facebook began popping up in recent weeks. But the practice reached the attention of the media after Mr. Scoble had a comment run afoul of the site’s filters on Saturday. Scoble, who runs the Sobleizer blog, is a leading expert on social media who works for the hosting firm Rackspace and enjoys a massive and influential online following. He blew the whistle on the filtering in a post to his Google+ account, after his attempt to comment on a discussion about the news site PandoDaily was blocked and labeled by Facebook as “irrelevant or inappropriate” and not contributing to the post “in a positive way.”

“Has anyone ever seen anything like this before? I haven’t, and I’ve posted tons of comments to Facebook,” Scoble asked in a post on his Google+ account.

Scoble wasn’t the only user to encounter problems. Jarin Udom, a Facebook user and founder of the mobile and Web application development shop Robot Mode in San Diego, California, had an innocuous comment posted on a friend’s wall about the weekend “Super Moon” flagged as inappropriate. Udom said he still isn’t sure why, as his comment didn’t include links to other Web pages or inappropriate language of any sort.

Scoble reported that he was contacted by a Facebook PR representative who said that the flagged comment was possibly a “false positive” from the company’s comment spam filters. A company spokesman told Threatpost that the company could not immediately comment on the issue.

The rash of strangely flagged comments may reveal the strain of Facebook’s recent efforts to crack down on both spam and malicious links, and its efforts to identify and stamp out online bullying using its platform. 

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  • Lunart on

    I too experienced this response as I attempted tp post a comment on a politicaly charged discussion about revolution and the overthrow of governments in history.  I thought it was some kind of  government tuhing.  I posted it on my page and no one seemed to have ever seen it before.  Now I know I wasn't retarded.  Thanks for the info.


  • Irony on

    Aren't all Facebook users trolls anyhow?

  • Scrobert Roble on

    I think describing Robert Scoble as an ordinary user is rather kind.

  • Matt Joyce on

    People still use facebook?

  • Juris on


    Sure. Divorce attorney's best friend :)

  • Anon on

    The funny part is, I continue to troll, uninterrupted.

  • Anonymous on

    Facefuck, the cause and route of all lifes petty dramas.


    and then they find time to drama about the drama.


    Its a social network site, people are going to bitch and moan. dont sensor it cause unless you hadn't heard, its the internet! swearing and abuse is what people do.

  • Anonymous on

    Lmao, I haven't done anything else than trolling recently and I haven't gona any kind of blocking or warning.

    Maybe it's because of those guys from the article post in perfect english, when most regular users english, including mine is a shame to the language.

    Filters can't detect it :o

  • Deejay Kilometers on

    my account has been on lockdown for a few months now, i dont spam, i do swear, but if i want to put things up on my account in america, an account set on private, then i feel my 1st amendment right to freedom of speech has been violated. Luckly before i was on lockdown, i added my personal account and registered my phone to facebook. i can still add people who request me as a friend, post updates via txt and comment on my status along with recieve private msgs...but nothing else. It bugs me to know that programs like this target me and others without a just cause. 

    One thing i dont get, facebook actually asked to see my personal ID, "passport, drivers license or any official goverment documents that will prove i am who i say i am." i was told to "mark out any important information" yet facebook has even stated that it will ask for no such information on my account. So what is going on, why is it doing this? Why do they even have programs that dont just target spammers and use the bots they are running to just go ahead and shut down the accounts if they have full proof of it? If somebody has 1750 friends, they clearly are not a spammer -____- 

  • Anonymous on

    My mother clicks the like button when she sends stuff her friends request on game posts as well as liking random stuff her friends post. Facebook banned her from using the like button for a whole day so she had to comment like on all that stuff or sent. One of my friends comments got filtered. it was weird and took me a minute to figure out what the deal was. Apparently the word circumvent has the word cum in it so it was inappropriate. lol. It still posted but it posted it like this  cir***vent. I really think this is going to start to upset people.  

  • Anonymous on

    Most trolling is through the use of proper spelling and grammar. So maybe facebook is trying to kill off the grammar nazi trolls? To be honest I troll on there and never once got a warning. I even run a fairly nicely sized troll page and still no warnings. Though my friends who are grammar nazis get reported every five seconds or get blocked from commenting. Those trolls do go a bit harder and more vicious then the light barter of an ordinary troll.

  • Jessica on

    Facebook keeps giving me captcha for posting legitimate web links. I am tired of those things.
  • Anonymous on

    facebook has turned into myspace... twitter all day


  • websterkrawly on

    Facebook will never be able to stop spam or fake accounts. I know of people that keep as many as ten extra facebook accounts open just for farmville so they can send themselves stuff.

    All they had to do was buy at+t go phones and give each account a "valid" phone number.  The accounts don't even have real sounding names.

    There's very little chance facebook cares at all about enforcing the single account per user or the real name rules. The more users they have the more advertising they get. It's a perfect storm for spammers. The only reasons it's being addressed now is because spam is affecting affluent users and zynga (money owners) and the IPO is due. Wouldn't want a publicity nightmare anytime but especially not right before it goes public.


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