Australia markets open in 5 hours 19 minutes

Instagram blames anti-spam tech for stopping some Black Lives Matter posts

Karissa Bell
Senior Editor
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 15: In this photo illustration, the social media application logo, Instagram is displayed on the screen of a computer on March 15, 2019 in Paris, France. Social media Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp have been affected by a global outage for nearly 24 hours on March 14, 2019 cutting virtual worlds to nearly 2.3 billion potential users. Facebook has explained the causes of malfunctions that have disrupted its networks in recent days. This failure is due to the "server configuration change" that has caused cascading problems Facebook is excused for the inconvenience caused to users and companies that are dependent on Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp to run their business.(Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)

An anti-spam system at Instagram is “incorrectly” causing some users to be unable to share posts with the #blacklivesmatter hashtag, the company said. Some users have reported getting an “action blocked” message in the app after trying to share posts with the hashtag. 

“This action was blocked,” the message says. “Please try again later. We restrict certain content and actions to protect our community. Tell us if you think we made a mistake.”

According to the company, the issue arose due to the influx of posts using #blacklivesmatter, which triggered a spam prevention tool for “some people.”

“We're aware that some people are incorrectly running into ‘action blocked’ messages when using the hashtag #blacklivesmatter, or resharing related posts,” Instagram said in a statement posted to Twitter. “We have technology that detects rapidly increasing activity on Instagram to help combat spam. Given the increase in content shared to #blacklivesmatter, this technology is incorrectly coming into effect. We are resolving this issue as quickly as we can, and investigating a separate issue uploading Stories.”

The company didn’t say how long it’s been dealing with the issue or how many users have been affected, but said it was not trying to silence the hashtag. “We want to be clear that using #blacklivesmatter is supported and celebrated on Instagram, and we are moving quickly to ensure voices using this hashtag are heard,” Instagram wrote. 

The company also said it’s working on a fix for an issue related to Story uploads, though it wasn’t clear if that was also related to the hashtag. 

Instagram’s spam detection system, which is meant to look for bots and other “inauthentic behavior,” has been mistakenly triggered by users in the past resulting in “action blocked” messages. But the fact that it’s now appearing as result of posts associated with #blacklivesmatter will likely fuel more criticism of the company.

Facebook is currently grappling with an employee backlash over its decision not to moderate Donald Trump’s posts that were described as glorifying violence by Twitter. Some Facebook workers have participated in a virtual “walkout” while others are publicly criticizing Mark Zuckerberg.