Two important posts from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on his company’s role in the US presidential election and news dissemination disappeared from his timeline on Tuesday morning before being restored shortly before 1PM ET.
In a statement to The Verge, a Facebook spokesperson said the removal was an accident. “These posts were removed by mistake. This was caused by an error in one of our systems and the posts have now been restored. Mark's account was not compromised, and he stands behind the words in his posts.” Maybe that error isn’t quite as bad as telling everyone that they’re dead, but it’s concerning that Facebook’s systems can just vanish things the company boss has said. The spokesperson said “around 10” of Zuckerberg’s posts were affected.
The first related to Facebook’s fake news problem was originally published on November 12th and offered Zuckerberg’s thoughts on “Facebook and the election.” (Cached via Google at this link.) The Verge and countless other news outlets covered the update, in which he insisted “more than 99 percent of what people see is authentic.” But he went on to admit “there is more we can do” to prevent hoaxes and false news stories from spreading across the massive social network. The original URL for that post led to a “page not found” error before it was restored later Tuesday.
On November 19th, Zuckerberg published another update to his timeline outlining the company’s plan to combat fake news by listing a series of improvements (stronger detection of hoaxes, better reporting tools, warnings for articles flagged as false, etc.) that Facebook is actively working on. That Zuckerberg post, always visible via the Internet Archive, similarly went missing from his timeline and temporarily led to an error page. But now it’s back.
Two other updates pertaining to the election — one a photo of Zuckerberg and his daughter Max, and the other a video in which he controversially said it was “pretty crazy” to believe bogus news on Facebook influenced voters — remained on his timeline Tuesday and were not impacted. You could say it’s odd that a pair of posts covering the exact same topic (among others) went away, but Facebook is claiming none of it was intentional or done by Zuckerberg himself.
Update November 29th 12:50PM: The story has been updated to reflect that Zuckerberg’s post are once again visible on his timeline.