Facebook’s bias shows up – again.
The tech giant’s employees have consistently pushed to suppress or platform right-wing businesses like Breitbart, despite objections from leaders trying to avoid political setbacks, a devastating report from the Wall Street Journal revealed.
The internal debates – captured in bulletin board discussions reviewed by the publication – give rise to new concerns that the platform treats news media differently based on political angle.
Of particular focus in the report was Breitbart, which employees have aimed to remove from the News Tab feature, particularly amid protests following George Floyd’s death by Minneapolis police last year.
After an employee asked about removing Breitbart, a senior researcher replied, “I can also tell you that we saw a drop in confidence in CNN 2 years ago: would we take the same approach for them, too?” he wrote.
By 2020, Facebook had begun keeping track of “strikes” for content that was considered fake by third-party fact-checkers. Repeated offenders may be suspended from writing. Escalations came more frequently against conservative businesses, according to the report.
The report is the latest in a series of bomb revelations from whistleblowers about the social media’s urge for profit rather than users’ needs.
In recent days, employees have been told to prepare for more revelations.
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Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs for Facebook, told workers that “we have to steel ourselves for more bad headlines in the coming days, I’m afraid,” in a Saturday memo that Axios has received.
The new scoops were expected to come on Monday from a number of news outlets that leaked material from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, but an embargo on the information collapsed on Friday and more devastating reporting on the company’s internal workflow could be released at any time.
The story that broke the embargo on Friday involved a new whistleblower who told the Securities and Exchange Commission that Facebook routinely dismissed concerns about hate speech and the spread of misinformation for fear it would hinder the company’s growth.
The Whistleblower, who testified under oath and whose name has not been released, told the SEC in 2017 that Facebook execs discouraged attempts to combat misinformation and hate speech under the Trump administration because it would hold back the company’s growth – and because they were afraid for the consequences of the President and his allies.
The whistleblower, like Haugen, a member of the social network’s “integrity team,” said Tucker Bounds, a Facebook communications officer, dismissed hate speech as a “flash in the pan” and said although “some lawmakers will get pissed off,” the company “presses money in the basement. “
A person who was working on Facebook at the time told The Post that the comments from Bounds sound accurate.
“That’s how Tucker talks,” the former employee said. “The Tucker quote, as much as I disagree with it, really reflects the position of 2017.”
In his memo, Clegg urged employees to remain positive in the midst of news developments.
“But above all else, we should keep our heads high and do the work we came here to do,” he said in the memo, adding that Facebook was making significant investments in encouraging the vote and raising vaccination rates.
“The truth is, we have invested $ 13 billion and have over 40,000 people to do one job: keeping people safe on Facebook,” he said, according to the Axios report.
The flood of revelations that blew the lid of Facebook’s inner work began with a series of reports called the “Facebook files” in the Wall Street Journal based on data provided by Haugen in early September.
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On October 3, Haugen revealed his identity in an interview on CBS News’ “60 Minutes.”
“What I saw on Facebook over and over again was that there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook,” Haugen said in the news program.
“Facebook repeatedly chose to optimize for its own interests, such as making more money,” said Haugen, 37.
She left the technology giant in May after her device, which sought to correct misinformation on the platform, was dismantled, and she copied thousands of pages of internal documents to have as evidence to back up her claims.
Several days after the “60 Minutes” interview, Haugen told a Senate panel that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has not been held accountable for his actions and that lawmakers should make sure he does.
“There are no similarly powerful companies that are so unilaterally controlled [as Facebook], “she told the senators.” The goat stops with Mark. There is currently no one holding Mark accountable except himself. “
“As long as Facebook operates in the dark, it is not accountable to anyone and it will continue to make choices that are contrary to the common good,” she said.
Other material linked by Haugen to the media showed that Facebook downplayed or ignored Instagram’s corrosive effect on teens’ mental health despite being aware of the harm through internal research. ,
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Haugen also said that Facebook exempted popular users from some content moderation rules and failed to crack down on drug cartels and human traffickers.
“The documents I have provided to Congress prove that Facebook has repeatedly misled the public,” Haugen said in testimony to the Senate Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on consumer protection. “I came up with great personal risk because I think we still have time to act.”
This article first appeared in the New York Post