The social media company has come under heavy criticism for allowing right-wing pages and influencers to share factually incorrect posts without repercussion.
A senior engineer at Facebook was fired earlier this week for providing evidence that the social media platform favors right-wing accounts, BuzzFeed reports. The engineer, whose identity was kept anonymous, posted on Workplace by Facebook about how the website "was giving preferential treatment to prominent conservative accounts to help them remove fact-checks from their content." The company promptly deleted the post and then fired the employee. The termination took place right after Facebook employees confronted Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg about right-wing favoritism during an all-hands meeting in early August.
Reports: Facebook Fires Employee Who Shared Proof of Right Wing Favoritism https://t.co/cnxQyvri6c— John Iadarola (@johniadarola) October 13, 2020
According to the social media platform's rules, Facebook will limit a page's reach if they repeatedly share misinformation. However, an NBC News report showed that these rules were immensely relaxed for various right-wing media organizations and influencers, such as Breitbart, former Fox News personalities Diamond and Silk, nonprofit media outlet PragerU, and pundit Charlie Kirk. Under normal circumstances, the website's fact-checking teams would hand out "strikes" to accounts posting misinformation, but documents reveal that some employees “with direct oversight from company leadership, deleted strikes during the review process that were issued to some conservative partners for posting misinformation over the last six months.”
This is one of the many reasons Facebook and social media is so scary. No one knows what’s true anymore. The confirmation bias gets stronger and stronger. Everyone has their own set of “facts”. #TheSocialDilemma https://t.co/sBfjxEFPPm— Dr. Jaime Friedman, ❤️&💡 (@DrJaimeFriedman) September 25, 2020
This was a concern raised during the meeting in August. Employees pressed Zuckerberg to answer how "Breitbart News could remain a Facebook News partner after sharing a video that promoted unproven treatments and said masks were unnecessary to combat the novel coronavirus." Though the company deleted the video six hours after it was posted, it had already racked up 14 million views. Furthermore, other sites and pages have continued to share it. This obviously has detrimental impacts as the pandemic rages on in the United States, where the virus has already claimed over 215,000 lives ever since the public health crisis first started.
Allegedly, this preferential treatment is a way for Facebook to avoid criticisms of anti-conservative bias. A former employee with the company shared, "This supposed goal of this process is to prevent embarrassing false positives against respectable content partners, but the data shows that this is instead being used primarily to shield conservative fake news from the consequences." The company, nonetheless, has made some progress recently by removing posts on the Team Trump page that spread misinformation about coronavirus. It also took down pages from a troll farm in Romania that posed as African-American support for Trump. However, action has been rather slow and preferential in nature.
Republicans claim, without proof, that right-wing views are being throttled on Facebook — despite publicly available data showing the exact opposite is true.— NPR (@NPR) October 5, 2020
But that claim would be easier to debunk if Facebook was more transparent, former employees say.https://t.co/pKQKsq9cbk