In the last year Facebook has come under attack from both sides of the political spectrum. Conservatives claim they are being censored whilst Liberals claim Facebook isn’t doing enough to censor hate speech and extremism.
I worked as a content moderator at Cognizant on behalf of Facebook for nearly 2 years. What I noticed is that many types of political discourse and election materials were being monitored and censored. Regardless of your ideology, we need to realize that demanding more censorship from Facebook is a slippery slope that can be weaponized by whoever holds the reigns of power.
The same week that I went public as a whistleblower at Facebook on June 25th, 2020, there was a massive call for a boycott against Facebook. Many advertisers claim Facebook wasn’t doing enough to bar hateful content in ads. This was part of the #StopHateForProfit boycott campaign. https://www.cnet.com/news/facebook-will-bar-more-hateful-content-in-ads-as-boycott-picks-up-steam/
What I discovered while filming with a hidden camera at Facebook led to a criminal referral to the DOJ for Mark Zuckerberg. In April of 2018 Zuckerberg testified that Facebook doesn’t censor political speech, but the evidence I presented to Congressman Matt Gaetz shows the opposite. https://gaetz.house.gov/media/press-releases/congressman-matt-gaetz-files-criminal-referral-against-facebook-ceo-mark
I presented evidence dating back to 2017 that shows Facebook labeling many speeches from Trump as hate speech. I also showed how Facebook’s policy team allowed attacks against straight white males for not supporting the LGBTQ movement. Additionally, I showed Facebook’s stance on abortion and that they made “newsworthy exceptions” to promote pro-choice ideology. I have more than 20 examples of similar types of actions that favor leftist ideology and/or act against right-wing viewpoints.
I find it shocking that despite filming for 200+ hours and giving hard evidence of Facebook’s misdeeds, the mainstream media continues to turn a blind eye to political censorship that is damaging a free and open internet.
Cat Zakrzewski of the Washington Post called the evidence I helped bring to light “limited”. “Gaetz’s claim, for instance, relies on limited evidence from a controversial source.”
Here is one example of the type of political bias that I uncovered:
Bullying slang list — -Video 1, 10/17/2019
Things that are deleted with a name/face match
Ignore means they are ignored even when reported by the person being attacked
Troll= negative character claim
Attention/internet whore= negative character claim
Ignorant = negative character claim
Pedophile = ignore
Nazi = ignore
Gender confused = Claim about gender identity
Fucktard =negative character claim
Libtard = negative character claim
Trumptard = negative character claim
Racist/Sexist = ignore
Feminazi= negative character claim
Snowflake = negative character claim
Bigot = ignore
As you can see here, Facebook deletes your content when you call someone a “snowflake”, but allows calling someone a “racist”.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 frames its legislation in the following manner:
“(A)(3) The Internet and other interactive computer services offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse, unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad avenues for intellectual activity.”
(2)Civil liability No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of —
any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected; or
(3)Information content provider
The term “information content provider” means any person or entity that is responsible, in whole or in part, for the creation or development of information provided through the Internet or any other interactive computer service.”
The law here doesn’t give a limit to how much Facebook is allowed to censor. This is what needs to be corrected and modified in this law. There needs to be a limit to how much Facebook can constrain our speech. We have the evidence that they are already censoring political speech. They are not allowing for “true diversity of political discourse”.
Additionally, by deleting viral videos and promoting certain ideologies, Facebook has stopped acting as an “interactive computer service” and has now adopted the role of an “information content provider”.
I last worked at Facebook 7 months ago, yet I hope the evidence I uncovered will help shine some light on the current dilemma we face between protecting free speech while limiting real-world harm.
To summarize, both sides of the political aisle attack Facebook for its misdeeds. As a free society we should only limit speech to a very small degree. Yes, there are evils in society, but differences in opinion aren’t evil. Additionally, political censorship is a tool that can be misused by both sides of the ideological spectrum.
I hope the mainstream media will cover the facts I have presented, however it’s doubtful. In a world full of people like Cat Zakrzewski, Maggie Astor, and Jayson Blair, it is hard to find truth in journalism.
President, The Hartwig Foundation for Free Speech