Facebook has apologized to the White House’s social media director for blocking his Facebook page.
The apparent reason? His posts too closely resembled that of a bot.
Dan Scavino, the director of social media for the White House, on Tuesday noticed that he was unable to post comments on the page and created a separate post decrying to Facebook: “AMAZING. WHY ARE YOU STOPPING ME from replying to comments followers have left me – on my own Facebook Page!!?? People have the right to know. Why are you silencing me??? Please LMK! Thanks.”
Facebook’s note on his page said he had been “temporarily blocked from making public comments on Facebook. Some of your comments have been reported as spam.”
But President Trump, who also on Tuesday tweeted that “Facebook, Google and Twitter, not to mention the Corrupt Media, are soo on the side of the Radical Left Democrats,” perceived the action as possibly politically motivated.
“Facebook abruptly censored the account of President Trump’s chief social media guru, blocking him for simply responding to a question from a reader. #StopTheBias,” he posted on Facebook.
The president reiterated his concerns on Twitter, tweeting, “I’ll be looking into this!” And during a press conference Tuesday with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said that on social networks “there’s discrimination and big discrimination. I see it absolutely on Twitter and Facebook.”
Facebook said the action was only temporary and not politically motivated, but instead happened because some of Scavino’s comments were repetitive.
A commenter on Scavino’s page noted that the official often posted a “Thank you” to comments on his page, a repetitive response that could set off Facebook’s artificial intelligence measures to prevent spam.
“In order to stop automated bots, we cap the amount of identical, repetitive activity coming from one account in a short period of time, such as @mentioning people,” Facebook said in a statement sent to USA TODAY. “These limits can have the unintended consequence of temporarily preventing real people like Dan Scavino from engaging in such activity, but lift in an hour or two, which is what happened in this case. We’ve been in touch with him and have apologized for the inconvenience.”
Facebook will also be informing users about these measures to prevent similar situations, the company says.
Scavino looked to have the last laugh, posting a short video of a robot on his Facebook page.
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