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Facebook bans — then unbans — the B.S. Detector plugin that flags fake news stories

Published Dec 2nd, 2016 3:22PM EST
facebook fake news

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A few weeks ago we wrote about the B.S. Detector plugin. It’s a handy little tool that automatically produces a hard-to-miss pop-up tooltip whenever you’re about to click on a site from a questionable news source. It arose due to the flood of fake news stories that seem to breed on Facebook, and now, rather than rolling out steps to prevent its fake news epidemic, Facebook took the extraordinary step of banning links to the plugin. Then they unbanned it.

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B.S. Detector’s creator, Daniel Sieradski, suggested on Twitter that Facebook banned links to the plugin initially due to a report by TechCrunch that erroneously suggested that the social network itself was producing the fake news flags for some individuals. Apparently some B.S. Detector users forgot they had the plugin installed and thought the little red warning boxes were a product of Facebook itself rather than the plugin.

Shortly thereafter, links to the plugin began producing a notification whenever the link was pasted in. The “Message Failed” error claimed that the link was “blocked by [Facebook’s] security systems,” but offered no further clarification of exactly why the link was being banned.

Sieradski took to Twitter to voice his feelings about the peculiar ban, and predicted hours ahead of time that Facebook would shortly unban the link and then issue a statement claiming that it was an error or an automated process.

With the link now unbanned, Sieradski is already half right, though Facebook has yet to issue a statement on the incident. The social network has also not announced any concrete steps it’s taking to stem the fake news flood in the first place, though CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that efforts are currently in the works.