It is not easy being Facebook. Given the fact that it has 900 million users and its huge potential as a marketing platform, Facebook has its hands full in trying to police its ranks and it takes a lot of effort to keep Facebook from turning into a toxic stew of phishing, malware, penis extension, fake Viagra, fake Rolexes, and other shady spam wares from the bottom of the global e-commerce barrel. Given the huge numbers involved, it would be foreseeable, and understandable, that sometimes Facebook might go overboard in trying to protect itself from spammers. It would hardly be the first time a large Internet service tried killing ants with a blow torch. Take the case of Rima Regas who was blocked from posting comments by an overzealous comment filter. What’s worse, she’s been labeled a spammer. She isn’t the only one. It also happened to Internet celebrity Robert Scoble. What is clear is that if someone doesn’t like you on Facebook, they can severely limit your participation by having you labeled a spammer. The problem is not that Facebook has tools to crowdsource content control. The problem is that these tools may sometimes go overboard if manipulated. The problem is that there is no appeals process. A facebook comment ban extends to a month. And you have to take it because there is nothing you can do.
If this situation is not fixed soon, Facebook may be eroding its credibility and its market leadership. Fighting spam is understandable and necessary. No problems there. But build in a system where legitimate commenters can still communicate while spam gets blocked. This is a technical issue but, if left unresolved, it has all the makings of a public relations disaster. It’s not like Facebook can afford a PR Chernobyl right now given its past PR meltdowns regarding privacy issues and its looming IPO.