‘If someone wears a MAGA hat, I’m gonna delete ’em for terrorism…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) A new Facebook whistleblower at one of the company’s content-moderation warehouses in Tampa, Fla., has further confirmed the company’s long-suspected systemic bias in censoring conservative voices.
Zach McElroy took his story to Project Veritas, which has previously worked to exposed the latent—and in some cases, overt—bias at social media and tech companies including Google, YouTube and Facebook.
He estimated that 75 to 80 percent of the posts that were deleted via the company’s “civic harassment queue” were from conservative sources.
“Because there are not very many conservatives, I really don’t think there’s anyone sticking up for the voice of conservatives at a company that handles the flow of conversations—basically a large portion of the discourse online,” McElroy said.
“We are essentially in charge of what gets said and what gets stifled,” he said.
The Project Veritas video explained that Facebook relies on soft-censorship through secretive blacklisting techniques such as shadow-banning that may limit or suppress conservative posts without the user’s knowledge.
Content moderator Daniel Will confirmed that the company employed the controversial practice, despite officially denying it.
“Facebook shadow bans,” he said. “Facebook’s notorious for it—and they say they don’t, but it’s clear that people’s content doesn’t come up because it’s been defiltered off the queue.”
During prior congressional testimony and public statements, Facebook has repeated a common trope that it is algorithms and not human moderators who generally flag the content.
However, McElroy noted that there is always a human behind the algorithm.
“Certainly the algorithm is not human, but it had to be made by a human,” he said. “You can say it was a bot, but somebody had to design that algorithm.”
Publicly, Facebook—after having encountered pressure from both the White House and Senate—has made a big show of touting its neutrality with the November presidential election approaching.
Other sites—including Twitter, Snapchat and the Chinese-run espionage platform TikTok—all have determined to actively interfere in the political discourse by imposing left-wing fact-checks, openly blacklisting right-wing voices, and encouraging disruptive or violent left-wing activism.
However, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has sought to remain tactfully diplomatic in his public statements.
“We’ve seem plenty of statements from Mark Zuckerberg about how they don’t want to meddle in the election,” McElroy said.
“… But we know that privately they [Facebook employees] have very different opinions,” he added. “I have no doubt that what he said publicly is not what he means to do privately.”
While Zuckerberg has claimed to be resisting pressure from his own employees to take a hard-line stance against President Donald Trump, an undercover Project Veritas journalist recorded an Austin, Texas-based content moderator admitting that the company does block supporters who share messages from the president that Facebook censors deem offensive.
“Even if he [Trump] does say something, if it gets repeated, we can at least get the average Joe,” said Steve Grimmett. “… Facebook’s done a better job of at least policing the mimickers and the mockingbirds that come after Trump.”
Meanwhile, Facebook has allowed its blatant double-standard to continue in several other areas:
- The company aggressively imposed biased fact-checking on what it claimed was false information about the coronavirus, using unreliable sources like the United Nations’ World Health Organization that downplayed the role of China and suppressed skepticism over a number of false, overly sensational and authoritarian claims.
- Likewise, it monitored and deplatformed hundreds of peaceful right-wing patriot groups attempting to organize pro-Constitution demonstrations during both the COVID lock-downs and recent race riots, but it openly encourage leftist groups and allowed looters to use its platform to sell stolen goods
- Both Facebook and its photo-sharing subsidiary Instagram have sent subtle cues to redirect users to support extreme left-wing groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, Black Lives Matter and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People during recent race riots, even as the groups espouse overtly partisan, far-left-wing agendas.
- It blocked an expensive ad developed by the Trump campaign that criticized domestic-terrorism group Antifa while showing one of its historical symbols, an upside-down red triangle. Facebook justified the anti-Trump censorship by saying the Antifa symbol was considered “hate speech” because the Nazis had used it also.
- It was revealed to be abusing US guest-worker H-1B visa programs to give hiring preference to Chinese and Korean workers over American workers for the sake of promoting corporate “diversity” despite its clear lack of ideological diversity.
‘Spiteful’ Anti-Trump Resistance
McElroy warned that the known offenses were merely the tip of the iceberg. He offered recordings of internal memos that had been distributed to content moderators, many of which outlined special exceptions for offensive left-wing speech under they guise of newsworthiness and other false pretenses while censoring equivalent—or considerably milder—examples from the Right.
In one instance, the company expressly permitted the sharing of an “art” from a Seattle gallery that showed Trump getting his throat slit while banning a meme response to political attacks by former presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke.
Following comments that gun-rights advocates deemed hostile to the Second Amendment, the meme depicted cartoon character Elmer Fudd appearing to blast O’Rourke with a cartoon shotgun showing a puff of smoke.
The Project Veritas video also featured a montage of interviews with biased content moderators who expressed their overt disdain for Trump.
McElroy said the workplace culture in many of the moderation facilities—which are sometimes outsourced to private contractors and not directly overseen by the company itself—created a climate of radical leftist groupthink.
“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,” he said.
One of them—when asked if she would delete any conservative content she came across in the queue, even if it was determined to follow policy guidelines—responded, “Yes! I don’t give no f**cks, I’ll delete it.”
Another content-moderator, identified as Lara Kontakos, said she would like on her last day to delete all Republican content.
“If someone wears a MAGA hat, I’m gonna delete ’em for terrorism,” she said. “I’m just gonna, like, go crazy.”
Another, Marteyuna Holmes, admitted in a hidden-camera conversation that she routinely deleted every Trump post she saw.
“I just feel spiteful,” Holmes said. “Revenge for all the s*** I have to see.”
Time for Accountability
In the wake of recent censorship efforts on social media, which likely are designed to help sway the November election in favor or deeply-flawed presumptive Democrat nominee Joe Biden, Trump announced an executive order recently that would clarify the definitions in the Bill Clinton-era Communications Decency Act.
Under Section 230, online platforms that aggregate and repackage user-generated comment are allowed limited ability to curate it, in cases where it may violate obscenity laws, for instance.
However, Trump said that the virtue-signaling companies’ decisions to apply their own “community guidelines” has made them private editors, no longer advancing the public interest, and therefore subject to additional liabilities such as defamation lawsuits over the content that appeared on their sites.
Left-wingers have attempted to circle the wagon in response and reframe the debate, ironically, as an attack on their own free speech.
But the new exposé shows that the major social-media platforms cannot be trusted to self-moderate in a manner that is evenhanded without facing additional oversight or consequences.
Project Veritas founding CEO James O’Keefe said in a press release that it was past time for regulators to step in.
“Zach McElroy’s story raises serious doubts about the Capitol Hill testimony of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who gave lawmakers the impression that his company only takes content that could cause harm, such as relating to terrorism or hate speech, but never for politics,” O’Keefe said.
“Facebook and other social media platforms are protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, because they claim that unlike traditional publishers that do not actively edit content—they say they are like the phone company just stringing wires on poles,” O’Keefe continued.
“Facebook’s $400 billion market capitalization is tied to this protection, and our report shows for the first time anywhere Facebook’s robust and human-directed process for restricting the marketplace of ideas, which calls into question their CDA 230 immunity,” he said.