(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) Two days after Facebook whistleblower Zach McElroy exposed the rampant bias within the social-media giant’s content-moderation warehouses, a second whistleblower has come forward, adding to its woes.
On Thursday, Project Veritas, the undercover conservative watchdog that has cast light on the secret cultures of partisan leftist skulduggery in many supposedly mainstream institutions, introduced Arizona-based content moderator Ryan Hartwig to tell his story.
As an employee of independent contractor Cognizant (an arrangement Facebook uses to avoid paying benefits to its brigade of site-censoring “process executives”), Hartwig said he witnessed firsthand the company’s direct efforts to suppress conservative content as the November presidential election approaches.
“I was seeing them interfering on a global level in elections,” he told Project Veritas’s James O’Keefe..
“I saw a blatant exception that just targeted conservatives or favored liberals—and you know, we’re deleting on average 300 posts or actioning 300 posts a day,” Hartwig continued. “If you magnify that by however many content moderators there are on a global scale, that’s a lot of stuff that’s getting taken down,” he said.
Culture of Radicalism
Publicly, the company, led by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, has declared itself to be neutral in the election and has maintained that it will not censor content as a conduit of free speech.
But Facebook has repeatedly made exceptions to the rule, shadow-banning and deleting conservative users that it says have violated its arbitrary community guidelines, while ignoring more egregious behavior from the Left.
Even more pernicious than the inadvertent, systemic bias that informs company decisions, though, is what appears to be a deliberate effort waged by its low-level service employees.
Content-moderators’ jobs consist of making spur-of-the-moment, snap judgments as to whether content is permissible, with only limited oversight and accountability.
Hartwig used a hidden camera to capture some of the shocking anti-conservative smears at his facility by those whose job it was to make discretionary decisions about what content complied with or violated company guidelines.
Several of those caught on tape expressed awareness that their actions not only were a violation of Facebook’s rules but were morally wrong.
However, they used their leftist co-workers as a support network to rationalize the actions.
One such individual was Israel Amparan, who was not shy about airing political grievances with co-workers, referring to conservatives as “a bunch of s***tty f***ing rednecks threatening civil war if they remove our duly elected president.”
“Trump supporters are f*cking crazy-*ss *ssholes, that every other f***ing word out of their mouth is, you know, ‘Come take it,’ ‘Seal the border,’” said Amparan, referring to the advocates of 2nd Amendment rights and enforcing federal immigration laws.
“I hate government as much as the next f*cking person, but you’re not gonna catch me rioting,” he continued, in an interview likely recorded prior to recent left-wing-driven race riots, which have only underscored further the hypocrisy in Facebook’s community standards.
“It’s like impeachment,” Amaran continued in his rant. “… Trump called it a f*cking coup–and it’s like that should scare you more than anything.”
The radical mindset espoused by their collective hostility left Hartwig wondering just how much their extremist viewpoints might be factoring into their supposedly dispassionate decisions about censorship.
“That was the tipping point—knowing about what I knew about how they were giving exceptions for the policy,” he said.
“I knew that it was likely that it was happening elsewhere on a global scale,” he continued. “Just seeing such blatant bias from Facebook really bothered me.”
In some cases, Hartwig said, supervisors at the warehouse were able to make arbitrary exceptions to the company’s policies, such as allowing pro-LGBT “hate speech” to remain up during the month of June, when the gay community celebrates its “Pride Month.”
A memo that Hartwig captured via screenshot stated that screeners should permit “[a]nything that is a delete per our Hate Speech policies but is intended to raise awareness for Pride/LGBTQ. This may occur especially in terms of attacking straight white males.”
Conservatives have begun pushing back at the bias and discrimination. In addition to the whistleblower exposés, some leading voices on the Right are encouraging a boycott of Twitter on Friday, June 26.
The up-and-coming site Parler is now emerging as a Republican-friendly alternative where prominent conservatives and libertarians, some previously banned or censored on Facebook and Twitter, may freely express their opinions.
Meanwhile, Trump has issued an executive order that would impose new liabilities on sites whose censorship goes above and beyond the provisions outlined in Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.
Online platforms that allow users to directly broadcast their ideas have long been regarded as conduits to the First Amendment, and protected accordingly from things like libel and defamation laws.
However, the decisions by these sites to re-contextualize and filter content based on an ideological agenda means that the sites are no longer acting in the public interest and should be held more personally accountable for the content, the president said.
“In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand-pick the speech that Americans may access and convey online,” said the order.