Facebook Employee Fired After Leaking Evidence About Pro-Conservative Bias

Reports have surfaced that a Facebook employee was fired after he leaked evidence that shows that the platform has a pro-conservative bias.

Some conservatives are constantly whining about how platforms have an anti-conservative bias. This typically comes about when they get reprimanded or banned after harassing others, death threats, and plenty of other rule violations. Of course, as is often the case, when Trump and his supporters make an accusation about anything, it is often the case that the exact opposite is true. That is what is being alleged after an employee leaked evidence that Facebook has a pro-conservative bias. From The Independent:

According to internal posts seen by Buzzfeed, organisations including right-wing publisher Breitbart, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, Trump advocates Diamond and Silk, and conservative video maker Prager University (PragerU) have all received preferential treatment to stop their posts being blocked by Facebook’s policies.

Buzzfeed cites internal posts made on Workplace, the company’s business version of Facebook. The “tasks” the engineer had cited as examples of the alleged special treatment were made private and inaccessible to employees, according to another Workplace post from another employee.

On 22 July an employee reportedly posted to the company’s misinformation policy group, pointing out that someone had acted on Breitbart’s behalf to clear misinformation strikes.

“A Breitbart escalation marked ‘urgent: end of day’ was resolved on the same day, with all misinformation strikes against Breitbart’s page and against their domain cleared without explanation,” the employee apparently wrote.

That employee also alleged that a partially false rating applied to an Instagram post from Charlie Kirk was flagged for “priority” escalation by Facebook vice president of global public policy and former Bush administration employee Joel Kaplan.

Kaplan reportedly argued against moves that would make Facebook less politically polarising but were described as “antigrowth” and requiring “a moral stance”.

The idea that Facebook is coddling racism, misinformation, and other deplorable entities does fall in line with other actions we’ve seen in the past. Back in July, we reported about how advertising boycott organizers tried to pressure Facebook to take a stand against racism only to leave the meeting “disappointed“. In addition to this, we reported back in June on how Facebook was alone when it comes to taking action on enforcing the rules on pro-Trump supporters. The result was an internal backlash from employees, exposing an internal rift between employees and management.

The Buzzfeed report goes on to offer some additional context:

“It appears that policy people have been intervening in fact-checks on behalf of *exclusively* right-wing publishers, to avoid them getting repeat-offender status,” wrote another employee in the company’s internal “misinformation policy” discussion group.

Individuals that spoke out about the apparent special treatment of right-wing pages have also faced consequences. In one case, a senior Facebook engineer collected multiple instances of conservative figures receiving unique help from Facebook employees, including those on the policy team, to remove fact-checks on their content. His July post was removed because it violated the company’s “respectful communication policy.”

After the engineer’s post was removed, the related internal “tasks” he’d cited as examples of the alleged special treatment were made private and inaccessible to employees, according to a Workplace post from another employee.

“Personally this makes me so angry and ashamed of this company,” wrote the employee in support of their colleague.

The engineer joined the company in 2016 and most recently worked on Instagram. He left the company on Wednesday. One employee on an internal thread seen by BuzzFeed News said that they had received permission from the engineer to say that the dismissal “was not voluntary.”

In an internal post before his dismissal, the engineer said he was “told to expect to be contacted by legal and HR if my post is found to be violating other policies in addition to Respectful Comms.”

Facebook denied the employee had been terminated for the post but said it was because “they broke the company’s rules.”

“We have an open culture and encourage employees to speak out about concerns they have,” Bourgeois said.

News of his firing caused some Facebook employees to say that they now fear speaking critically about the company in internal discussions. One person said they were deleting old posts and comments, while another said this was “hardly the first time the respectful workplace guidelines have been used to snipe a prominent critic of company policies/ethics.”

This latest expose has certainly renewed questions over whether or not Facebook is a threat to democracy itself in some circles. The PR damage as a result of this is quite significant and places the platform back under a bad light when it comes to enforcement of the rules. For Facebook critics, this is just further evidence that Facebook is doing what they can to help the Trump administration. For Facebook, it is going to take a lot to recover from this one. Already, many view Facebook as a cesspool for far right wing extremist messaging. The idea that Facebook will not only not enforce the rules, but actively promote it by giving preferential treatment will only further cement a bad reputation.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.



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