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Facebook: A Technical Glitch Caused Catholic Groups To Shut Down

REUTERS/Tony Gentile

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor

Facebook is attributing the recent, temporary removal of several Catholic-focused Facebook pages to a technical glitch, according to a statement provided Thursday to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The problems were first reported by the Catholic radio station Relevant Radio, according to CBS News, which said its official Facebook page disappeared Monday. The network also said that more than 20 other prominent Catholic pages, some with millions of followers, were also inaccessible.

“All Pages have now been restored,” a Facebook spokesperson told TheDCNF Thursday, although the pages were reportedly revived some time Tuesday. “This incident was accidentally triggered by a spam detection tool. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

The social media company says that the way its automation tools for removing spam are structured, it can inadvertently sweep up legitimate posts, pages profiles.

Specifically, the mechanism will identify online abuse by tallying comments on posts that are identical to either of the first two comments on the thread. If there is a disproportionate number of identical remarks — everyone, or almost everyone, for example, comments “amen,” “amen,” “amen” — it indicates to Facebook and its tools that the apparent pieces of communication are likely spam.

Facebook says this pattern is precisely what occurred with the Catholic groups, although it did not elaborate what exact comments prompted the purportedly automatic removal. It also states that religiously-affiliated pages, like Relevant Radio, typically have pages with many duplicate responses and comments.

While it is not clear if what occurred is technically a glitch, since the term means a temporary malfunction, and it appears this instance stemmed from the inherent settings of its technology, Facebook has had trouble with irregularities before. (RELATED: Cancer Awareness Group Draws Square Breasts For Video After Facebook Censors It)

The highly disturbing Facebook Live video of the aftermath of the Philando Castile shooting, which was recorded by the girlfriend, was subsequently removed minutes after it was automatically uploaded. Facebook adamantly denied any wrongdoing and said they did not censor the content, but rather that a technical glitch caused the video to disappear.

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