Facebook blocks Snopes for being spammy, unsafe

Facebook blocks Snopes for being spammy, unsafe

Summary: Facebook has blocked its users from sharing any links to the domain snopes.com domain. The automatic warning message says Snopes is spammy or unsafe, but it is neither.

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Facebook has started blocking all links to Snopes, a reference page for stories of uncertain or questionable origin. The popular website is used for discussing and making sense of urban legends, Internet rumors, and e-mail forwards.

As you can see in the screenshot above, Facebook is blocking all URLs to the snopes.com domain for being spammy or unsafe. The social networking giant frequently blocks malicious websites to protect its users, but this seems to be an accidental block. Here is the full text of the warning message:

The content you're trying to share includes a link that's been blocked for being spammy or unsafe: snopes.com For more information, visit the Help Center. If you think you're seeing this by mistake, please let us know.

Like the message suggested at the end, I let Facebook know about this block. If you believe Snopes is a legitimate website, you can do so as well by clicking on the "let us know" link above. I have also contacted Facebook directly to find out more information about what has happened.

Two months ago, Facebook partnered with Web security gateway software company Websense to check links its users post for malware. Either Websense or the Facebook Immune System (FIS), which checks 650,000 actions every second, is most likely to blame here.

That being said, it is possible that one or more webpages on Snopes was hacked and is now serving up malware, so Facebook's systems banned it automatically. Alternatively, it's possible that a significant number of users were unhappy with the information posted on Snopes and decided to report the website as spam to win an argument on the social network.

Until I see proof otherwise, I believe this block was made in error by Facebook's automatic security systems. As you can see below, this would not be the first time Facebook has made a mistake. I could be wrong, and Palo Alto may have an actual reason for banning Snopes, but in that case I would like to hear the details.

Although I have only posted a Snopes link to Facebook once or twice, I regularly use the website whenever I get an e-mail forward from my mother. Snopes has legitimate, well-researched information so it's a great way to quickly verify dubious information.

Update: I was right, this was a mistake on Facebook's part. "The page was was blocked in error and access has been restored," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused."

See also:

Topic: Social Enterprise

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

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6 comments
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  • RE: Facebook blocks Snopes for being spammy, unsafe

    Because there's nothing spammy or unsafe on facebook...
    putty.master
  • RE: Facebook blocks Snopes for being spammy, unsafe

    I have reported to Facebook several times that Snopes is not a spam service. They did the same to other sites such as thatsnonsense.com.

    Why they would want to block sites dedicated to debunking Scams and Urban legand emails and such is beyond me.
    bobiroc
  • RE: Facebook blocks Snopes for being spammy, unsafe

    How did you get it fixed?

    Links to our hyperlocal news website suddenly started coming up "spammy" about 10 days ago - no replies to any of our messages.
    natomasbuzz
  • Banned URLs In Facebook

    Facebook recently banned a site I created from being linked to on Facebook, just as they did with snopes. They proved no reasoning for this at all, just saying that the site is "spammy" or that it 'may' have been reported by other facebook users. Both are extremely unlikely as the site was never previously linked on facebook, had a brand new URL and IP. Whatever the reasons for being banned there seems to be now way of rectifying the error. They provide a link "If you think you're seeing this by mistake, please let us know. " but then state "Note that we don't provide personalized support for this issue right now, but we'll use this information to identify any bugs in our system." . There does not seem to be any way of rectifying this problem, emailing anyone directly or speaking to anyone on phone, of face to face. I even went as far a creating a new URL but made the mistake of forwarding it to the new url so this has now been banned too. How can this be solved?
    Taylor Taff
  • Snopes Remains Blocked

    As of late February 2014, Snopes is still being blocked by Facebook.
    nrigi
  • Domain/URL Blocked

    I am also facing the same issue. I was able to share links from my website to Facebook for somtime then it got blocked suddenly.

    Initially, I found the website domain was on blacklisted list by McAfee. I thought this could be the reason. But unfortunately, not. The domain is still blocked.

    I have submitted a number ot review request to Facebook but no response....not sure if anyone is even looking at it :(

    Anyways, I am writing the experience here:http://day2dayexps.blogspot.com/2014/01/troubleshooting-facebook-website.html
    - this is an account of what I have been doing so far.
    jimzubemo