Facebook Blocks Post-Happy Moms, Suspects Spam (Not Cat Photos)
When the social network launched its new Groups feature a few weeks ago, many mothers, like Lucy Berry of Kansas, began using the tool to share parenting tips and stories between themselves. But because some of them posted so incessantly, Facebook automatically suspected that they were spammers. Prolific posters in Berry's mom group were soon forced to complete CAPTCHA tests to make sure they weren't robots, and some were even outright prohibited from commenting in certain areas of the social network, according to PC World.
A group member named Catherine, for example, received two warnings after posting 35 to 40 messages within a 1.5- to 2-hour period. Before she knew it, her account was suspended for 24 hours. Other moms with restricted accounts tell PC World that they couldn't write on the Group Wall, comment on their friends' Walls, or even comment on their own statuses for the duration of the suspension.
As you'd expect, Berry and her merry band of matriarchs are none too happy about being tagged for "abusive" online behavior. "We were just discussing our children," says Berry, who received a 24-hour account restriction for posting too much and too often. "I got a message saying I may be annoying other people. Which I know isn't true."
Facebook, for its part, acknowledges that its security software isn't perfect, and says it will continue to fine-tune its mechanisms to account for changing user behaviors. "We're constantly updating these systems based on how people are using our features," a spokesperson said. "In this case, we've recently tweaked the system for Groups to allow people to post at a quicker rate. No system is perfect, and in rare cases, legitimate activity is blocked. We're always working to improve our systems, and we use information from these cases in doing so."
Frustrating as it may be for some moms to go without Facebook for a whole 24 hours, it's hard to fault the social network for taking extra steps to protect itself. The site stores a ton of highly sensitive personal information on more than 500 million users, some of whom may act with significantly more malice than Berry or her digital cohorts. Facebook's system clearly isn't perfect, but when it comes to security, it's always better to err on the side of caution -- even if that means risking a few false positives.