Facebook expands link blocking

While Facebook has been progressively censoring links from sites that might contain illegal material such as Torrents they have been progressively expanding this security technology to also track onpage content. This expansion may not be a bad step forward a majority of the time as it reduces the number of spam and malware spread via it’s platform my issue is that it’s reading the page for any suspect or reported links and not allowing you to share the link on your page. This is a massive move forward by Facebook in it’s process of cleaning up the web and potentially censoring any content that it feels is illegal or unsuitable for it’s 700,000,000 members.  The potential risk for user-generated content providers and open discussion platforms is one of a concern and what is the potential impact for publishers?

Facebook Blocked Link

These new notifications appear to be part of the expanded Web of Trust platform that moved beyond re-active into pro-active screening of everything shared.  This new Web of Trust platform thereby offers Facebook real-time monitoring of what is being shared across it’s platform, since the beginning of last week. The question is what is next for social censorship? Can you no longer share content if the context of the discussion does not fit within Facebook’s vague guidelines or impacts on their commercial agreements?

So what is being blocked?

The link that I was trying to share was a YouTube clip, which in it’s description actually contained a Bit.ly link that pointed to a free web hosting account that before being suspended could have possibly have been sharing torrents of the song for download or loaded with advertising and affiliate links. The broad messaging from the Facebook notification was that the link was being blocked for being spammy or unsafe but this is very vague and there is no easy process for appealing your content if you have been added to their blacklist….

You can see the link is not a central part of the content and would not be clicked or noticed by most users watching the YouTube clip but because it’s featured on the page you are not allowed to share this YouTube clip via Facebook.  The other issue is that you might need to manually check your content can be submitted to Facebook and how unreasonable it is to block content based on any links that might be listed as part of the content. The implications on how your content will be censored based on the content around it seems to be a bit broad and obviously very based for YouTube as most popular clips feature similar links.

Blocked YouTube Clip

So what is the implications?

The issue is that Facebook is reading and tracking the content on your pages and potentially the any spam comments that might be automatically approved.  This is one of the strongest reasons why you should be moderating your comments and removing any spam or unknown links otherwise you might find that your content may no longer be able to be shared on Facebook. There is also another reason that you might not want to approve pingbacks on your content as it could jeopardise the ability for users to share your content via Facebook.

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3 comments

  1. Noelle says:

    Hello David,

    What do you recommend doing when a legitimate company’s website has been blocked? We’ve tried a variety of ways to begin a dialogue with someone at Facebook and have had no success thus far. Not being able to post Pamplonabalconies.com to our other sister sites, pamplonahousing.com and runningofthebulls.travel to cross market is quite frustrating to us. Any ideas?

    best,
    Noelle

    • David says:

      Hello Noelle,

      Could it have been how someone has overly aggressive promoting your website links previously via personal accounts or posts on other peoples walls. There is no guideline for how many times it takes for a link to be marked as spam before it’s banned by Facebook.

      I would consider adjusting what links you are sharing and maybe start sharing less links in your posts.

      I would consider waiting 30 days and seeing if that ban is lifted as the issue is that I couldn’t even post that link which means your customers cannot promote your website if they wanted to currently. It could have even been a competitor that has tripped the switch by reporting your links as spam.

      Facebook is very closed on what metrics it uses to ban a link but I think they have lowered the barrier to make easier to have domains banned by users.

      David

    • Pwn Zuck says:

      Hey David,

      As a last resort, I’d suggest ‘writing’ an actual letter to Facebook.
      Their office in Ireland handles such requests. I doubt whether they would even respond to emails.
      I’ve read success stories of people who wrote to the Ireland HQ got their ban lifted.