Facebook top execs interfered to allow US celebrities, politicians violate content rules: Internal documents

Asia's Tech News Daily

#Facebook, #Mark Zuckerberg, #social media, #United States, Financial Times

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Senior executives of social media giant Facebook intervened to allow politicians and celebrities in the United States to share posts that violated rules related to misinformation and harmful content, reports said on October 25 citing internal documents.

In the documents, dubbed as ‘The Facebook Papers’, employees of the company reportedly alleged that the top officials blocked action against right-wing politicians who were breaking the rules, as the company was facing accusations of bias from the conservatives.

One internal memo, dating back to September 2020, said “director-level employees” had written internally that they would prefer to “formally exclude political considerations” from the decision-making process, Financial Times reported.

In another note of December 2020, an employee claimed that Facebook’s public policy team obstructed the decisions to take down certain posts which were in violation of the rules. The moves were blocked “when they see that they could harm powerful political actors”, the employee reportedly said.

Also Read | Apple once threatened Facebook ban over Mideast maid abuse

“In multiple cases the final judgment about whether a prominent post violates a certain written policy are made by senior executives, sometimes Mark Zuckerberg,” FT further quoted the author of the leaked note as saying.

Zuckerberg, the company’s chief executive officer, has an ironclad hold on Facebook Inc. He holds the majority of the company’s voting shares, controls its board of directors and has increasingly surrounded himself with executives who don’t appear to question his vision.

The internal documents, which have raised questions over Facebook’s mechanism to check harmful content, are among a cache of disclosures made to the US Securities and Exchange Commission and Congress by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager who left the company in May.

Facebook spokesperson Mavis Jones said in a statement that the company has native speakers worldwide reviewing content in more than 70 languages, as well as experts in humanitarian and human rights issues. She said these teams are working to stop abuse on Facebook’s platform in places where there is a heightened risk of conflict and violence.

“We know these challenges are real and we are proud of the work we’ve done to date,” Jones said.

Still, the cache of internal Facebook documents offers detailed snapshots of how employees in recent years have sounded alarms about problems with the company’s tools – both human and technological – aimed at rooting out or blocking speech that violated its own standards.

With Reuters & AP inputs

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