You can’t block Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook. Or his wife, Priscilla Chan. But the company is working to rectify the situation, Zuckerberg told BuzzFeed News.
Currently, when you try to block Zuckerberg or Chan, Facebook displays an error message. “Block Error. Sorry, there was a problem blocking Mark Zuckerberg. Please try again,” the app said when BuzzFeed News tried to block Zuckerberg on a mobile device last week. A similar message appears when you try to block Chan.
Zuckerberg told BuzzFeed News his team is working on a fix for this problem, but it’s a technical challenge that could take some time.
The error has been around since at least August 2010, when TechCrunch noticed it. And it doesn’t only prevent people from blocking Zuckerberg and Chan, but anyone who’s been blocked frequently in a short amount of time, a Facebook spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. Facebook doesn’t have any “unblockable” accounts — its system simply gets busy.
“I can tell you that people trying to block a profile or Page may see an error message if it has been blocked many times within a short period,” the Facebook spokesperson said. “This temporary message does not prevent people from reporting profiles or Pages that they think are in violation of our Community Standards.”
In 2010, Facebook shed more light onto why it coded the system this way: It’s meant to limit the unintentional damage of targeted blocking campaigns. ”In very rare instances, a viral campaign will develop instructing lots of people to all wrongly block the same person,” a Facebook spokesperson told Mashable at the time. “The purpose of this system is to protect the experience for people targeted by these campaigns.”
But much has changed for Facebook since 2010, and for Zuckerberg, too. In August 2010, an estimated 400 million people used Facebook, which was 18 months ahead of its IPO. Today, more than 2 billion people use Facebook, now a publicly traded company worth $492 billion.
Facebook’s rise has propelled Zuckerberg into one of the most powerful positions on the planet. Followed by more than 95 million people on Facebook, Zuckerberg has used his influence to speak up on a variety of political issues, most recently in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which is currently under threat. He’s also traveled the United States this year, meeting with people around the country and reporting back what he’s learned about issues such as fracking and preservation. Zuckerberg's steering of the Facebook product also has a subtle but profound impact on the way his platform’s users share and receive information.
With such influence, Facebook limiting its users ability to block Zuckerberg’s profile seemed, to many, a bit off. Now, the company is on its way toward resolving the issue.
Alex Kantrowitz is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco. He reports on social and communications.
Contact Alex Kantrowitz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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