Facebook throws up roadblock for Google-hosted blogs

Facebook throws up roadblock for Google-hosted blogs

Summary: Facebook has started prompting users who post any link from Google Blogger with a CAPTCHA test. This was likely triggered by blogspot.com spam links, but now all blogspot.com links are affected.


Facebook has started throwing a CAPTCHA prompt for all Google Blogger blog links. This means that when you want to share a blogspot.com link, or any link hosted by Google Blogger, Facebook won't immediately let you do so. Instead, you'll be prompted to verify that you are certainly a human and not a bot.

Try it yourself. Head over to Facebook and try posting a link (on your profile, on a group, on a Page) to any Google-hosted blog (here's a list), such as the Official Google blog or JQuery HowTo. You will get a CAPTCHA prompt like the one in the screenshot above. If you manage to prove you are a human, the link should go through. If you don't, it won't. Even more ridiculously, if you click cancel, Facebook will show you a post that looks like what you wanted to share, but the link will be just text, suggesting the post isn't there. If you refresh, you'll see that indeed it's not.

Facebook has likely started doing this automatically because thousands of spam links are hosted by Google Blogger. Unfortunately, this is now affecting legitimate websites. Meanwhile, thousands of spam links not hosted on Google Blogger are still getting through.

To make matters worse, the "What's this?" link in Facebook's "Security Check" window is broken. That means users who don't know what a CAPTCHA prompt is cannot easily find out. I'm told this is causing a lot of confusion for many Facebook users trying to share legitimate links.

One can argue this problem is not as bad as the issue three months ago, when Facebook completely blocked Snopes.com for being spammy or unsafe, since if you type in the CAPTCHA correctly, you can still post the link in question. On the other hand, this prompt doesn't affect just one website: Blogger provides hosting for hundreds of thousands of websites. To give you a better idea of Blogger's size, note that its Alexa rank is 43. CNET's is 88 and ZDNet's is 1,093.

Google bought the Blogger blog-publishing service in February 2003. Most of the blogs are hosted by Google at the blogspot.com subdomain. Up until May 2010, Blogger allowed users to publish blogs on other hosts, via FTP, and all such blogs that still exist are now hosted on Google's own servers, with their own custom URLs.

I was first alerted about this issue by the owner of The Bulldog Estate, which is hosted on Google Blogger but has its own custom URL. Ironically, his website helps Facebook users by informing them of spam and scams proliferating on the social network.

I expect that this is a mistake in the company's automatic spam-filtering system. I have contacted Facebook and will update you if I hear back.

Update on March 12 at 7:00 AM PST: The issue appears to be fixed. I have still not heard back from Facebook.

Update on on March 12 at 2:00 PM PST

See also:

Topics: Browser, Google, 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.

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  • Hmm... I'm thinking of starting a website called SUCA

    SUCA would stand for "screw users for competitive advantage". Not suggesting for certain that this is happening here, but it looks like a possible scenario. Microsoft used to be the king of this, but these days I'd say apple seems determined to grab the crown. And with Facebook one does get the impression that they increasingly treat any part of the internet outside facebook as a threat which must be hidden from Facebookers at all cost. Have you noticed how many links to news articles turn into links prompting you to sign up for a facebook reader app for the publication instead of simply linking to it?
  • Some Iran,

    I have been trying to get the word out that there is 3 Radiation Contamination fires burning(Meltdown) near the city of Some, Using the Google Earth, with the Time Slide Bar shows how long and when they were started,
    36*20' 18.76" N x 58* 40' 40.83 E , and please look at the area. oh ya,

    I had it myself when I went overseas. I was presented photos taken at random from my friends own album asking me to identify who they were.. etc.
    What is so unusual is 4 out of 5 of my friends marked these photos as for family only, yet I was shown these random pictures when I was clearly not marked as family members! Imagine being shown pictures of dogs and personal stuff and demanding that you identify them by profile name.

    Then sometimes when one logged in, we get prompts to add a friend. I did sometimes since I am in business myself. Guess what?
    When I take up their offer to add a friend, I get a message box accusing me of sending uninvited offers which is considered spamming!!!

    Their privacy settings are quite tricky and one have always to be on guard to ensure that it is saved and not resetted by Facebook!

    There is no guarantee that Facebook is not using personal details without authorization as Facebook Contact/Complaints will never reply!