Ryan Hartwig revealed how Facebook demonstrated “blatant bias” in enforcing its rules in an interview posted by investigative journalism nonprofit Project Veritas on YouTube. At the time, Hartwig was working at Cognizant, a company hired by Facebook to handle part of its manual content policing.
Facebook lets the Left break its rules to attack conservatives
Unlike its rivals, which have been open about their censorship of posts, Facebook has been portraying itself as a champion of free speech. The company often points to how it let posts by President Donald Trump stand, despite Twitter censoring similar tweets from the president.
However, underneath its facade, Facebook has been conducting what Hartwig has characterized as “extreme censorship.”
According to Hartwig, he noticed the “blatant bias” at Facebook shortly after he started his job at Cognizant back in March 2018. In his interview with Project Veritas, he provided a screenshot of an internal post by Cognizant operations and training manager Shawn Browder, dated June 7, 2018, informing moderators that some content that broke Facebook’s “hate speech” policy would be temporarily allowed.
“Anything that is DELETE per our Hate Speech policies, but is intended to raise awareness for Pride/LGBTQ” was to be allowed, according to the post. It also specified that “this may occur especially in terms of attacking straight white males,” giving the example: “Straight white males are filth for not fighting more on behalf of LGBTQ.”
Hartwig also referred to hidden camera footage showing a person identified as a team lead for Facebook content review at Accenture – another company contracted by Facebook for content review – saying that he “spent quite a bit of time looking at pictures of hate organizations, Hitler, Nazis, MAGA, you know, Proud Boys, all that stuff, all day long.”
“That’s kind of how the moderators are conditioned to think, like, ‘Hey, anything that’s right-wing, hey it could possibly be on the hate list,’” Hartwig said.
The “hate list” Hartwig was referring to is Facebook’s “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations” list. Included in it are terrorists and terrorist organizations, as well as some neo-Nazi figures and even former Nazi officials.
Aside from these, however, the list also includes a number of conservative personalities including populist commentator Paul Joseph Watson, InfoWars host Alex Jones and conservative activist Laura Loomer.
Most Facebook moderators are biased towards the Left
The problem with Facebook’s moderation seems to go beyond the company. Another former content moderator for Cognizant, Zach McElroy, had secretly recorded footage for Project Veritas that showed moderators talking about political bias in content policing.
“We rig the game so that it could work on the left side,” one moderator was recorded as saying.
Several other moderators were also recorded as saying that they were removing any content that they saw was conservative of supporting Trump, regardless of whether or not the content actually violated Facebook policy.
According to McElroy, primarily Left-leaning content moderators “are essentially in charge of what gets said and what gets stifled.”
“And in speaking with a lot of them, I found that they are not at all shy to exercise their political will in deleting or leaving up content, whether or not they’re allowed to or whether or not they’ll get penalized for it,” McElroy said.
Can Facebook really be trusted?
Facebook spokeswoman Heather King responded to the Project Veritas reports during a Capitol Hill conference with Facebook’s Washington office and congressional staffers on its Election Integrity programs.
“With regards to a question related to [the] Project Veritas report. First off is that our reviewers work hard to keep our tack on space for end-users every day, the reviewers’ decisions are regularly evaluated, ensure our policies are applied fairly and accurately, not promote any political viewpoint of any stripe and the comments included in this video are not consistent with our policies,” King said.
She also stated that the company would be reviewing their training and oversight and that they would be “watching our partners to make sure that they’re appropriately and properly following our policies.”
However, questions remain on whether or not Facebook will push through with these. The company’s previous actions have shown clear bias against conservative-leaning sites, even de-platforming those they disagree with.
More recently, the company, along with others in the industry, has been pouring money into conservative think tanks in Washington D.C., while also setting up their own dark-money advocacy group.
These actions seem to be more like those of a company trying to protect itself from any repercussions than one trying to change the way it operates.