A senior engineer collected internal evidence that showed Facebook was giving preferential treatment to prominent conservative accounts to help them remove fact-checks from their content.
The company responded by removing his post and restricting internal access to the information he cited. On Wednesday the engineer was fired. [...]
Some of Facebook's own employees gathered evidence they say shows Breitbart -- along with other right-wing outlets -- has received special treatment that helped it avoid running afoul of company policy. They see it as part of a pattern of preferential treatment for right-wing publishers and pages, many of which have alleged that the social network is biased against conservatives. [...]
On July 22, a Facebook employee posted a message to the company's internal misinformation policy group noting that some misinformation strikes against Breitbart had been cleared by someone at Facebook seemingly acting on the publication's behalf.
"A Breitbart escalation marked 'urgent: end of day' was resolved on the same day, with all misinformation strikes against Breitbart's page and against their domain cleared without explanation," the employee wrote.
The same employee said a partly false rating applied to an Instagram post from Charlie Kirk was flagged for "priority" escalation by Joel Kaplan, the company's vice president of global public policy. Kaplan once served in George W. Bush's administration and drew criticism for publicly supporting Brett Kavanaugh's controversial nomination to the Supreme Court. [...]
Facebook did not respond to questions about why Kaplan would personally intervene in matters like this.
When a person searches Instagram for a hashtag and clicks on it, the platform has automatically generated "related hashtags" pointing users to other relevant content. TTP examined related hashtags for 20 popular terms associated with the Trump and Biden campaigns and found starkly different treatment of the two candidates.
Instagram blocked the display of related hashtags on all 10 of the Trump hashtags reviewed, including #donaldtrump, #trump and #trump2020. That means users were not directed to other content, including anything negative or critical about the president.
But for all 10 similar Biden hashtags, Instagram did display related hashtags, which at times steered users to insults and disinformation about the former vice president, with phrases like #creepyjoebiden, #joebidenpedophile and #joebidenisaracist. [...]
It's not clear why Instagram blocked related hashtags for key Trump-themed content and not for parallel Biden content. It appears to be a custom service that the company did not advertise but performed for certain political figures and celebrities in the past. [...]
TTP found no mention in Instagram's policy website, help center or Facebook's hashtag guidance offering campaigns or brands the ability to turn off related hashtags. Beyond the Trump campaign, it appears to have been done on an ad hoc basis for some politicians, celebrities and Instagram executives. [...]
One interesting case is Instagram's treatment of the hashtag for Brad Parscale, Trump's former campaign manager. On June 23, #bradparscale displayed no related hashtags, TTP observed. But after Parscale's recent demotion, TTP noticed on July 21 that related hashtags had begun appearing on #bradparscale, suggesting the switch had something to do with his changed status.
Remember when I asked Zuckerberg why he allowed a white supremacist-linked org to be an official fact checker for Facebook and he wouldn't give a straight answer? Maybe this is why.
The incentives are certainly there.
Dems believe in antitrust, reigning in monopolies, and checking abuse of corporate power.
Zuckerberg himself said he'd go "to the mat and fight" against these points.
Could that include weaponizing FB's platform to influence our elections?