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Facebook accidentally promotes Instagram post highlighting rape, murder threats

September 22nd, 2017 at 3:23 PM
instagram fail

In a colossally embarrassing moment for the world’s largest social network — which, it should be noted, has been under increasing pressure to police the content it promotes to its users — Facebook’s algorithms pushed an incredibly distressing Instagram post as an advertisement. This really could not be any more perfect.

The post was a screengrab taken by Olivia Solon, a San Francisco-based tech journalist for The Guardian, highlighting an email she received a year ago. The message contained therein is a pretty grim — a threat to rape and kill her — but that didn’t stop Facebook from using the highly-trafficked post to promote Instagram to Solon’s friends and family.

“Today my sister saw this ad on Facebook,” Salon writes an Instagram post. “It looks like Instagram is using one of my most “engaging” posts (a screengrab of an email I received a year ago) to promote its service to people on Facebook. It’s something of an algorithm fail.”

That’s probably putting it mildly. It’s also incredibly ironic that Facebook’s system would yank that particular post, which highlights the realities of interacting with strangers online, to promote Instagram, which is all about gaining a following of, well, mostly strangers. You just can’t make this stuff up.

Mike Wehner has reported on technology and video games for the past decade, covering breaking news and trends in VR, wearables, smartphones, and future tech.

Most recently, Mike served as Tech Editor at The Daily Dot, and has been featured in USA Today,, and countless other web and print outlets. His love of reporting is second only to his gaming addiction.

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