Facebook downranking system failure leads to misinformation spike

Occurred: March 2022

Facebook experienced a 'massive' failure of its content ranking system that exposed users to a surge of disinformation, hate speech and other harmful content.

According an internal report obtained by The Verge, the failure was caused by a software bug that exposed as much as half of all News Feed views to potential “integrity risks” over six months, with posts that would usually have been demoted by the company's algorithms boosted by as much as 30 percent. 

According to the document, Facebook engineers had first noticed the issue, which was later attributed to a software bug, when a sudden surge of disinformation, hate speech, and other harmful content began flowing through the News Feed. 

A Facebook spokesman told The Verge the bug 'has not had any meaningful, long-term impact on our metrics.'

System 🤖

Documents 📃

Operator: Meta/Facebook
Developer: Meta/Facebook
Country: USA; Global
Sector: Technology
Purpose: Minimise harmful content
Technology: Content ranking system
Issue: Robustness; Mis/disinformation
Transparency: Governance; Black box

Page info
Type: Issue
Published: March 2022