Facebook algorithm blocks images of 'sexual' cows, office buildings

Occurred: February 2021 

Photographs of wildlife, landscapes and buildings taken by the owner of a digital photo library were blocked by Facebook for supposedly containing 'overtly sexual' content. 

Mike Hall had been trying to use photos on his business page - which included a cow standing in a field, the England cricket team, and office buildings - to run ads on Facebook. 

The images were flagged as unsafe for reasons ranging from “promoting weapons” and “overtly sexual” content, and led to the restriction of Mr Hall's account and a ban on his ability to place advertising, according to the BBC.

Facebook later admitted the block had been applied in error, though it failed to explain why and how it had been put in place. Commentators suggested the problem was likely to have been caused by Facebook's automated content moderation system, and tghen compounded by human 

Operator: Meta/Facebook

Developer: Meta/Facebook

Country: UK

Sector: Business/professional services

Purpose: Review advertising

Technology: Advertising management system

Issue: Accuracy/reliability
Transparency: Governance; Black box

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: February 2021