Some Outlets Experiencing User Lockouts on Their Facebook Accounts

In what sounds like a technical issue, some users working news outlet Facebook accounts are getting locked out entirely.

After the long warned about rollout of Facebook news blocking came to fruition at the top of the month, many media outlets started seeing their news links getting blocked on Facebook. This includes collateral damage victims who didn’t even have a part in this debate, but got swept into this anyway.

Now, when rolling out something in the world of technology – especially something that is this massive in nature, there’s bound to be some mistakes along the way. The most you can hope for is minimizing the mistakes that do occur. A recent issue that appears to have popped up is that some users working the Facebook pages of news outlets. From The Canadian Press:

News outlets have been unable to post on Meta’s social media sites some or all of the time since the digital giant began rolling out its restrictions on Canadian news in response to federal legislation.

CBC has noticed inconsistencies when posting on Facebook and Instagram, including instances where content submitted does not get posted, said CBC spokesperson Kerry Kelly in an email.

At Bell, which owns CTV, some account users are still able to post to the brand’s accounts, while others cannot, a spokesperson said.

But not all outlets are experiencing this problem. The Toronto Star is still able to post on its Meta accounts, said spokesperson Bob Hepburn in an email. Staff at the Winnipeg Free Press are also able to post on the outlet’s Facebook and Instagram pages, editor Paul Samyn confirmed, though only people from outside Canada can view the posts.

It can be a little confusing, but this issue does appear to be separate from the news links blocking. For the news link blocking, the content can still be “posted”, but Canadian users will get greeted with the message that the content is blocked. In the case of news outlets pages (which is a vast majority of the cases), the whole account just has one message saying that Canadian’s can’t view the content. In other words, you can still post the content, but Canadian’s can’t view that. This is how Canadian’s were able to see the messages from non-Canadian sources that the content is blocked.

What is being described here is that some users simply can’t post at all which is, of course different. From a legal standpoint, Facebook has no reason to do this. Bill C-18 only affects what can be visible to Canadian’s, not necessarily who can and cannot post. Indeed, if the government does choose to finally do the right thing, however unlikely that is, of rescinding the law, Facebook is going to want the ability to “unhide” that content. There’s really no reason to stop users from posting that content in the first place.

So, in all likelihood, this sounds like a technical issue. Whether that was brought on by the news link blocking (that would actually be surprising) or something else at play (probably the case), it does sound like something is glitching in the system. The fact that it is so inconsistent only adds to the likelihood that something in the system is glitching out. Hopefully, something can be resolved in the system.

Still, it raises an interesting question: what’s the point of trying to post something that will get hidden from view from your target audience? This doesn’t really make much sense in the first place.

If anything, a better focus would be to find a platform that Bill C-18 hasn’t screwed up for news sites and go from there. One possibility is to set up a Mastodon instance similarly to what the BBC has done. Is it a solution for everyone? No. Is it better than constantly posting to a platform where almost no one is going to see your content in the first place? Probably. In fact, just setting up an account on a third party instance is probably a better solution anyway. After all, it beats spending your days whining about Facebook all day long.

An interesting development to say the least.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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