'Deboost': Ex-Facebook Employee Leaks Dozens of 'Troubling' Docs Suggesting Censorship of Conservatives
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The investigative journalism group Project Veritas says it has obtained leaked internal documents from a former Facebook employee proving the company's alleged bias against conservatives on its platform.
The report includes 60 pages of internal documents, screenshots of Facebook employee discussions, and a sit-down interview with the unnamed Facebook insider.
"I saw things going on that I personally find to be troubling," the former employee says in the video.
According to Project Veritas, the leaker worked as a content review analyst and handled copyright and trademark claims.
The former employee said she repeatedly saw Facebook use a technical action called "ActionDeboostLiveDistribution" that she saw attached to conservative pages.
"I would see (this term) appear on several different conservative pages. I first noticed it with an account that I can't remember, but I remember once I started looking at it, I also saw it on Mike Cernovich's page, saw it on Steven Crowder's page, as well as the Daily Caller's page," she explains in the video. "I had a couple of working theories. I was like, maybe this is an independent versus mainstream thing. Maybe independent figures on the left are experiencing the same kind of deboosting. But I didn't see that."
The employee is not a programmer and says she "can't speak to what exactly the actions were when it says, 'reduce live distribution.'"
"But I can read English just fine," she insists. "When I see 'Reduce Live Distribution' it means preventing the distribution of this live stream."
Project Veritas founder James O'Keefe, who narrates the video, said deboosting is "a method of suppression distribution."
"This occurs because prompts like 'Share this video' are disabled. Interactive notifications are also disabled and the live feed boost associated with a live streaming video on Facebook is removed. The system converts the live video into text. Machine learning classifies or identifies certain words – and bad words trigger de-boosting," O'Keefe said.
The former employee said posts were being deboosted without notifying the users.
The report also focused on an internal document authored by Seiji Yamamoto and Eduardo Arino de la Rubia, titled "Coordinating Trolling on FB." The leaker suggests the presentation describes current and potential future actions Facebook can take to combat trolls on the platform.
A "troll" is internet slang which refers to someone who likes to sow discord or upset people on Facebook by posting inflammatory messages.
The former employee said the document, which was created in 2017, was "clearly" aimed at targeting the right-wing meme culture on Facebook. She claims Yamamoto classifies someone as a troll if they use words like SJW (social justice warrior), MSM (mainstream media), and overtone window.
"They're shifting the goal post. If you're dropping the 'N' word or things like that, using some kind of homophobic or racial slur, by all means – you know – that's something that a platform should not want on it. But now you're moving it to things like jokes that conservatives tend to make."
In the document, Yamamoto allegedly suggests interfering with troll accounts, especially before important elections, so their content is not seen.
The former Facebook employee said the network is "absolutely" trying to influence elections and users' political beliefs.
"Like many people, they believe the 2016 election of Donald Trump was a fluke – something that shouldn't have happened. It happened because all these trolls were sharing, you know, anti-Hillary memes. And meme culture, in their opinion, is what won Donald Trump the presidency and so it's in their interest as a very homogenous company to kind of shut this down," she explains.
While the former employee admits it is "very possible and even likely" that Facebook has not implemented all of the measures discussed in the document, she insists Facebook did implement certain actions like "scoring" troll accounts to determine which accounts should be suppressed or deleted.
Facebook has since fired the former employee who now works for Project Veritas. When asked for a statement, the company said she was fired for performing a "stunt" for the investigative journalism organization.
"We fired this person a year ago for breaking multiple employment policies and using her contractor role at Facebook to perform a stunt for Project Veritas," a spokesperson told The Verge. "Unsurprisingly, the claims she is making validate her agenda and ignore the processes we have in place to ensure Facebook remains a platform to give people a voice, regardless of their political ideology."
Still, the former employee is encouraging others to come forward.
"The public has a right to know," she said, adding that censorship on social media is not just a conservative conspiracy theory.
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