Facebook Hampers Do-It-Yourself Mask Efforts

Her volunteer organization, Sew Face Masks Philadelphia, has grown to thousands of supporters since it became active in early March. More than 3,500 people have subscribed to her group’s Facebook page alone.

“Our platform has become even more of a useful tool for our community members to engage with each other” said Ms. Jochym, 33.

But over the past few days, Ms. Jochym said Facebook’s systems flagged some of the posts from the community, marking them as breaking its guidelines against regulated goods and services.

Those whose posts were flagged or taken down were given a warning, and eventually threatened with being unable to post or comment on the site if other posts were flagged.

Melissa Knapp, a moderator for the Sew Face Masks for Quincy, IL Healthcare Workers Facebook group, said she has received numerous messages threatening to limit her posts. Moderators of similar groups also complained in private Facebook messages that they have received warnings.

Muddled messaging from government agencies on whether people should be using face masks may have compounded the problem. Officials initially warned people not to buy personal protective gear like masks for fear that there would not be enough for health care workers. But last week, the Center for Disease Control advised people to start wearing masks in public.

Moderators said they believed the mixed messaging led to confusion at some of the big tech platforms, including Facebook.

“We support Facebook in their efforts in removing unethical sales” from their platform,” Ms. Jochym said. “But we are hoping that they can update their procedures to protect community organizations such as ours.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/05/technology/coronavirus-facebook-masks.html

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