A decade after Google, Meta dishes out fake cybersecurity warnings

There’s nothing original with Big Tech
It shouldn’t matter what Little Green Footballs’ politics are, as long as its blogger, Charles Foster Johnson, isn’t advocating anything hateful, and from what I can see of his current stance, he doesn’t. However, he’s found his blog links are being cancelled on Facebook. Links to posts going back as far as 2009 were being removed from Facebook. People who shared those links were receiving messages that it was a ‘cybersecurity’ issue relating to malware. Johnson asked if this was libel on his Mastodon account, to which I answered: yes.

This sounds awfully familiar because Google ran the same scam in 2013 on all of our sites. For those who don’t know the story, we were hacked and the hackers injected some Google Adsense code into our ad server, which Google then marked as suspicious and told anyone who tried to access our sites that these were attack sites.

Back then, Chrome (of course) and other browsers relied on Google’s security warnings, so many flashed up a scary-looking page, and there were many webmasters who then removed their links to our sites, as their sites were being flagged as well.

We removed the Adsense code within seven hours, but Google continued to libel us for seven days. Our traffic took 18 months to recover, and the episode delayed the launch of my second mayoral campaign in 2013.

At the time, I documented other instances of this happening, including one e-commerce site for kosher baskets that Google libelled for months. As far as I can tell, that business ultimately shut down because of Google’s blacklisting.

The difference is that Little Green Footballs was never hacked, but Meta is playing the same silly buggers and putting people off linking to the blog.

So, I’m going to link to his blog.
Johnson makes reference to a column at The Kansas Reflector, an independent newspaper that published a column criticizing Facebook parent company Meta over its climate change ad policy (i.e. Meta is on the side of the deniers). Writer and reporter Marisa Kabas republished this on her blog (using the Reflector’s guidelines). She writes:

As soon as I posted the link to my republished version of the column on Threads (Meta’s version of Twitter), it was taken down and flagged as a violation of community standards on cybersecurity. Shortly thereafter, all links to my site were blocked on all Meta platforms, and anyone who’d ever posted a story of mine received an alert that the link had been taken down due to that same cybersecurity violation. The same thing happened to the Reflector the day before, as I reported.

Kabas was able to fight back through public pressure and found her and the Reflector’s links restored, with Meta spokesman calling it a ‘security error’. I call BS.

Comments received by Marisa Kabas on her repost of The Kansas Reflector’s column.

I also call hypocrisy, since Meta is a known distributor of dubious software themselves under the guise of a malware scanner. Tipping off Louise Matsakis at Wired over this and seeing her resulting article was probably my favourite moment dealing with Meta: to punch a hole in their dodgy dealings, just as I had done with Google’s lies about advertising opt-outs at the start of the 2010s. But these buggers haven’t learned that you don’t go around lying. You have to love the Streisand effect here, since more people will have read the Reflector piece on Kabas’s site now, as well as Little Green Footballs.
PS.: Little Green Footballs’ Charles Johnson got a reply from Meta’s Adam Mosseri, who says things have been put right. This is not unlike how Rick Klau of Google stepped in to help us all those years ago. If you can get the attention of someone high up and internal, then you’re in luck, but otherwise, nada. In our case, we were fortunate that a Reuter journalist’s blog got cancelled and I hopped on to what was happening there. Rick was good enough to help after we got nowhere with the “support” groups.

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