Is Facebook censoring your posts? Missing comments – check for “not spam”

 

Is Facebook censoring your posts?

Missing Comments – be sure to check for “not spam”

 

Facebook’s “irrelevant or inappropriate” pop-up.

As a social media marketing strategist, I don’t just randomly post on Facebook Fan Pages or personal profiles – that’s spamming, and against all Facebook etiquette – but I DO make a lot of comments…which is the whole point of the “talking about” stat and of Facebook’s Edgerank. (If you’ve attended one of my workshops, you’ve heard me harp on this many times 🙂

However, a week ago I started noticing that on occasion a popup box would appear when I posted on someone’s personal profile or Facebook Page.

have you seen this facebook message? are you sure you want to post this? irrelevant and inappropriate

 

You would think this box appeared because I’d used profanity, a lot of exclamation marks, lots of capital letters – something sensible that would trigger this popup to appear, similar to the spam filter in your email. Nope. See the conversation for yourself below. (I posted this in a few places on Facebook, wondering if any other social media trainers or industry experts had noticed this problem.)

 

Facebook Censorship part 1 - popup with is your comment irrelevant or inappropriate on Mari Smith's wall

 

Not only was there no profanity, I’d even used several of the words from the original post (shopping, sunny), and from other people’s comments (Kelowna) – which in my view should make it quite relevant, even to a robot’s limited perception.

 

*** RELATED POSTHow to check your Spam folder in Facebook for Missing Posts and Comments ***

 

 

Reactions

Many  social media managers and internet marketing influencers had not yet experienced this “irrelevant or inappropriate comment” issue. But some did, and left comments on that Facebook post I’d created. In fact, Mari Smith herself commented in the thread, stating that “Robert Scoble recently had his [Facebook] comment censored – it wouldn’t post at all!!! He got quite the buzz going on G+ and on FB about it!” In fact, I’d even seen the headline myself and read the article.

From the blog post  “Facebook Clarifies That They Don’t Censor Comments” at AccuraCast News:

 

[box] On enquiry it was found that it was not so much the blocking of the comment, but the wording of the message that created confusion. Facebook has clarified that the comment was blocked due to some features in their algorithm, which is used to block spammers. They are in the process of trying to find out what exactly in the controversial comment caused the spam blocker to get triggered. The official statement from Facebook on this issue is, “To protect the millions of people who connect and share on Facebook every day, we have automated systems that work in the background to maintain a trusted environment and protect our users from bad actors who often use links to spread spam and malware. These systems are so effective that most people who use Facebook will never encounter spam. They’re not perfect, though, and in rare instances they make mistakes. This comment was mistakenly blocked as spammy, and we have already started to make adjustments to our classifier. We look forward to learning from rare cases such as these to make sure we don’t repeat the same mistake in the future.”[/box] Note: bold added me.

 

Apparently it’s not so rare anymore, so it would appear that Facebook needs to take a look at what they changed in their “classifier” recently to cause an excessive amount of messages and comments to be triggered as spam.

 

 Now that there is much debate on what actually triggers the Facebook Spam-bots, I wonder:

  • Did someone report one of my comments as spam, and now I’m on a “watch list”?
  • Is there a way to see if I’ve had my comments reported, like some Facebook Police secret file? I’d like to know, but that opens a whole new can of worms, like people taking retaliative action when they find out someone reported them as spam.
  • Is there a set of guidelines available so we as social media managers can review it and share this info with our clients and colleagues?

IMPORTANT: Check Your Posts for Missing Comments (Not Spam)

Did you know that you might be missing some comments from your Facebook Page?

This could already be happening to you on Facebook. Especially if you are a public figure, musician, actor, or simply any Fan Page with a lot of fans or Facebook personal profile with a lot of friends and subscribers.

Do you know how to find the missing comments that Facebook has marked as spam?

The problem is, even if you check the notifications on your Facebook Fan Page, you might not even realize that some comments are invisible, or hidden from the post thread. You have to manually check each post, and look for comments to mark as “not spam”! I only found out by accident, when I noticed a peculiar row of 3 dots at the top of the thread, just below the Like – Comment – Share links.

 

*** RELATED POST: How to check your Spam folder in Facebook for Missing Posts and Comments ***

 

Suggestions to Facebook

I read an interesting comment to the article “Comments Denied” in The Daily Mail in the UK, and it made me think about what I might suggest to Facebook in terms of personalizing my experience, and that of my fans and followers.

[box] “Censorship no, but what I would like is a box that could be ticked in my settings stating whether my account will accept profanities in a posting or not or even the possibility of having a black list of words. Can’t be hard for FB to do.” – Matt, Germany, 07/5/2012 13:44 [/box]

Actually Matt, there is – it’s in your Facebook Page admin settings.

But what if there was a box that you could tick to allow all comments, or set comments for approval? What? There is you say? Again, it’s on the settings for your Fan Page in the Manage Permissions menu:

Facebook Censorship - fan page settings - manage permissions - allow others to post on page - NOT HIDDEN

1. Facebook should add an “Allow comments only after approval” option.

Here’s the thing: I’ve ticked the Posting Ability box to allow everyone to post comments, photos and videos on my Fan Page – remember, the whole point of social media is to be social and create an opportunity for engagement.

AND I’ve set the default visibility of “posts by others” to “allowed on page”. There is clearly an option to have them “hidden from page” – yet some of people’s comments have in fact been hidden.

I would suggest there is a 3rd option, to the effect of “allow comments on page only after approval”.

 

2. Notification of comments marked as spam.

Along with the above modification, I would suggest that Facebook needs to come up with some sort of notification system to at least let us know that there are comments awaiting approval, like YouTube and WordPress does.

  • It could simply be added to the existing notifications flag (in the Facebook header bar),
  • or better yet, it could be showcased in the Admin Panel like Messages are,
  • and it could also be added as a new option in drop-down menu in the Highlights menu on your Timeline (which currently has “highlighted”, “posts by Page”, “posts by others”.)

 

Your turn. I’m curious to know how much of a “rare situation” this is:

  • Have you received the dreaded “irrelevant and inappropriate” comment popup? What were you posting when it happened?
  • Did you find any hidden messages where people had responded to a thread on your Facebook Page? What are the settings you’ve ticked off in your Manage Permissions menu in the admin section of your Fan Page?
  • Facebook has a Feedback area in their Help section – if you have any suggestions, be sure to let them know! (I already did!)

 

★ UPDATE: March 31, 2013  – How to Contact Facebook Directory

I receive a lot of questions about how to contact Facebook directly to resolve issues with being banned from Facebook, spamming, locked out accounts, etc. From what I’ve heard from other people trying to reach them, Facebook is notoriously poor at customer service. However, Mari Smith has provided an excellent directory of 100+ forms and contact links, so hopefully that will help you get in touch with the appropriate person at Facebook to resolve your issue:

Mari Smith’s Facebook Contact Directory: http://www.marismith.com/how-contact-facebook-directory-of-forms/

 

★ End of Update

*** Please share this post – it’s important that people know they may have hidden comments on their Facebook Page *** 

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Krystal says:

I just got marked as spam too. It was a completely relevant and non-profane or rude comment…I don’t think this is “rare”. You can can Google it and there are a lot of posts about it.

Angelique says:

Unfortunately I think you’re correct that it’s not rare. It’s happened to me, and many others, with relevant content with no profanity. Hopefully Facebook fixes their spam algorithm soon.

Mike Yagi says:

I’m having the same issue here, whatever I post on others walls (where allowed) get marked as spam for no apparent reason.

You discussed how to resolve the issue for the page admin, but what I’m concerned about is why my post are being marked as spam in the first place, and I’m not getting any popup boxed or notifications telling me anything.

I can see my posts on other people pages in my own activity log but they don’t show up on their pages.

Am I screwed?

Angelique says:

You are definitely not the only person Mike – as you can see from my blog posts, it has affected me on Facebook as well. In my case, I was posting on the wall of someone famous (ie has lots of Facebook friends and fans of her business Page on Facebook), and since I was only “subscribed” and not a “friend”, it flagged me as Spam. Luckily, she is a social media expert herself, and helped bring attention to the ongoing issue, and added me as a friend.

Chances are that someone marked one (or probably more than one) of your posts as Spam when you posted on their wall, and then you are on ‘the Facebook Police’ radar. OFten, the Fan Pages that are marked as Spam have just been posting randomly on other people’s walls and asking them to “like” their page, or leaving a link to “check out this product/service”.

I’ve also heard that using characters or a lot of punctuation sets it off too (!?!?!).

The best thing to do is contact Facebook via their feedback form, or you can see what you can find in this Facebook Directory.
http://www.marismith.com/how-contact-facebook-directory-of-forms/

Unfortunately, Facebook is notorious for poor customer service.

Good luck Mike.

Be sure to post another comment if you get it resolved, and how you fixed it.

8-20-2012 The scum running Facebook have really hit a new low, even for them, in both maliciousness and incompetence. The screenshots documenting this recent series of events are at http://www.facebookcensorship.com It really will take a class action lawsuit to get them cleaned up.

Angelique says:

Personally, I don’t think it is through maliciousness or incompetence. On the contrary, I would think their intention is to help users by trying to filter out spam, just like in emails. Their algorithm obviously needs tweaking for sure. The other thing to keep in mind is that Facebook is a free platform (which costs money to run in terms of programming, servers, etc) – people can choose whether or not they want to use it.

Kirsty says:

My friend is having this problem and we can’t get it stopped and becuase i’m on my mobile i can’t mark their comments as non spam untill i get home after work still trying to work out how to change this

Angelique says:

Hi Kirsty.

It’s definitely a frustrating problem. You can also check for spam in the Admin section of your Facebook Page.

Check out the step-by-step guide here:
http://socialmediamarketingkelowna.com/missing-facebook-page-comments-how-to-check-your-spam-folder

Joan says:

Thanks for this post. I hadn’t noticed anything but your reminder to check for missing content in the blog post is a good one… Thanks for that.
and also…Thank you for keeping me abreast of the mirade of ongoing changes happening in social media. Exceedingly helpful for me.

Angelique says:

Yes, there are always changes happening in social media. Glad to help!

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