4 Reasons Why Facebook's Keyword Moderation Blocklist Is Not Keeping You Safe

Jenny Wolfram
Jul 7, 2016 3:09:11 PM

Back in 2011 Facebook released a Moderation Blocklist, a functionality that allows page administrators to define certain keywords that they want hidden from their page. Within a few seconds of posting, any comments or posts containing the defined keywords will automatically be hidden from page.

When this feature was launched it was applauded by social media managers, as anyone managing a highly engaged page knows what a bother spam and harmful content is.

Most Facebook page administrators can still today 5 years later agree that Facebook's Moderation Blocklist is to a certain degree very convenient. However, in order to keep your Facebook properties safe and clean from harmful engagement, it is by far not enough. Let us discuss why.

1. Facebook’s moderation blocklist only works on pages and not on ads

It is common for many Facebook advertisers to assume that the Facebook keyword filter applied on page also works when it comes to automatically hiding spam on Facebook dark posts.

However, we have confirmation from Facebook that its Page Moderation tool can only be applied to your Page. Despite including words often related to spam in your Page Moderation blocklist, your Facebook ads will not be protected from harmful comments.

As many companies run thousands of Facebook dark posts in parallel, these posts may be receiving a high amount of spam and harmful comments, which may be impacting on how prospects view your brand.

2. Spammers always find a workaround to bypass filters

Spammers are known for being very resourceful. They tend to find a way to keep "their game going" despite filters and blocklists. Here are some of the tactics spammers frequently use on Facebook.

Tactic 1: Modify the word choices. Once spammers have figured out which words are commonly blocked, they will often modify their messages to find a way around the defense spelling certain words associated with spam in a slightly irregular manner or applying spacing or icons between their letters. This is enough to break through Facebook’s moderation blocklist.

Tactic 2: Post spam images. Facebook’s page moderation can only filter text - Many spammers make use of this and post images that contain spam messages instead.

common spam post

This type of image is very commonly used by spammers spamming game Facebook pages

Tactic 3: Use post mentions or photo tags. Facebook’s page moderation tool can only remove posts and comments posted directly on page. As a result, users can get around the moderation blocklist by tagging pages in their posts and photos.

3. Moderation blocklists can lead to missed opportunities

Naturally Facebook’s Page Moderation tool can’t identify comments posted from real fans from spam. Using the keyword filters, you risk hiding real fan engagement or comments that require your attention.

Let’s take an example. Some social media managers filter out the word ”f*ck” to make sure the engagement on the page stays appropriate. When a happy customer expresses how they f*cking love your product, this comment will be automatically hidden from your page and no one will see how satisfied your customers are.

A frustrated social media manager may also want to filter out comments that include the word “work and “home” after seeing way too many “work from home ads” being posted on their company’s page. When a customer asks how she can order home the company’s products, her comment will be automatically hidden and never addressed leading to a possibly lost customer.  

4. Moderation blocklists may not be effective on multilingual Facebook pages

If you work for a global company, you may have fans all over the world commenting on your properties in different languages. If you use Facebook’s moderation blocklist to remove harmful comments in English only, the tool will miss out harmful comments in many other languages.

A word in one language may also mean something entirely different in another language, meaning that if this word is on your blocklist, any comments including the word will be hidden even though it’s used in a harmless context in another language. “Slut” for example means “The End” in Swedish and “Crap” is a commonly eaten fish in Romania.

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As anyone working with social media knows, language is complex and whilst a comment in one context, in one language can mean one thing, it can in another context or in another language mean something entirely different.
To ensure that real fan engagement isn’t hidden and that spam is identified irrespective of how clever the spammer is, a word blocklist is not enough to keep you protected and other measures are required.

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