The task of social moderation on a platform as large as Facebook’s can’t be easy. A little bit of algorithm and automation should be expected, but sometimes these systems can entirely miss context. Such was the case for a Fallout 76 fan group dedicated to the in-game Free States Militia when the group suddenly found itself banned, along with the accounts and access of its administrators.
The issue with Facebook’s ban of the role-playing group Free States Militia came to light recently, as originally reported by Kotaku. According to group admin Jessica Dickey, “one minute we’re here, the next minute we’re deleted.” The ban of the group apparently happened rather quick.
“A video game fan site based on an in-game faction of the same name,” Dickey said in a private message to Kotaku. “It makes no sense, especially when there are real life militia groups still up and running on Facebook.”
Apparently, the ban was a mistake on Facebook’s part, and possibly part of an automated sweep of various groups on the platform. The group’s page would later be restored to full privileges after many other Fallout 76 groups came together in support.
“We apologize for removing the Fallout 76 Groups in error and have since restored the Group and admin accounts,” Facebook would say in a following statement. “We are committed to taking action against Groups tied to violence. We have both AI that detects these groups as well as 15,000 human content reviewers, but occasionally Groups are removed in error. If we detect a Group is connected to a dangerous organization, we may remove the Group and associated admin Profiles are disabled.”
The company has caught flak several times in the past for issues in moderation of both benign and actual radical groups on the Facebook platform. As the matter of content moderation and responsibility continues to be a central concern in ongoing politics, Facebook is one of several companies whose CEOs have been called upon to testify in an upcoming hearing regarding liability law.
Regardless, it would at least appear that the Fallout 76 fans of the Free States Militia RP Facebook group don’t have to worry about starting fresh on another platform for now. Hopefully, they don’t get caught in any further waves of automated moderation.