eBay banned some users by mistake

Customers couldn't get any help.

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Twitter isn't the only big-name internet company to have accidentally banned users this week. As The Verge reports, eBay has confirmed it suspended a "small number" of users by mistake on December 3rd. The company didn't provide a cause or reveal the extent of the problem, but said it had fixed the slip-up and notified those affected.

There may have been a significant number of victims. Reddit users devoted a large thread to the bans, noting that there weren't any potential red flags for at least some of the accounts. People were suspended even if they had excellent buyer and seller histories or hadn't used eBay for years. Those who contacted eBay were denied appeals and, at least once, told they put eBay users "at risk."

While it's not always clear what prompts unintentional bans, incidents like these underscore the limits of moderating internet services. Companies often have to lean on automated moderation to handle the sheer scale of content, and those human moderators that are available can still make mistakes. Gaffes like this are rare, but might be difficult to avoid without double-checking decisions.