A new Facebook bug caused major problems for users today, with posts disappearing and new links apparently blocked from posting. The bug only affected posts containing links to content outside of Facebook, but as of press time, it appears to have been at least partially resolved. "An error in our system that helps block bad links on Facebook incorrectly marked some URLs as malicious or inappropriate," said a Facebook spokesperson. "As a result, some existing posts were hidden, while other posts were blocked completely. We’ve resolved the issue and the remaining affected URLs are being unblocked. We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused."
The problem seems to have begun last night with issues in Facebook's image-scraping system, which automatically pulls pictures from posted links. The issue was reported in the Facebook developer forums and the ops team promised a fix — but by the next day, the bug had developed to break the system entirely.
As a result of the bug, users attempting to post new links were met with a security warning: "The content you're trying to share contains a link that our security system detected to be unsafe...please remove the link to continue." Some users who click on existing links faced similar warnings, saying the link has been blocked for security reasons. A number of posts containing links also vanished, including dozens from The Verge's own page, although they reappeared intermittently.
that sound is the sound of a Facebook Publishing bug mixed with the collective aneurysm of social media managers everywhere— ಠ_ಠ (@MikeIsaac) April 30, 2015
.@facebook is deleting my posts...— Shefali S. Kulkarni (@shefalikulkarni) April 30, 2015
FACEBOOK IS BROKEN YOU ARE ALL FREE— Charlie Warzel (@cwarzel) April 30, 2015
Some users encountering the bug took it as selective censorship on Facebook's part — particularly given the large number of posts involving the protests in Baltimore — but there's been no evidence of anything other than a system-wide technical glitch. Media outlets, which have come to rely on Facebook for an increasing share of traffic, seem to have been the users most seriously affected by the glitch.
Update 8:47PM ET: Updated with Facebook comment, and to reflect that the bug is being resolved.