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Facebook lists EU political candidate Carl Benjamin as a potential “hate agent”

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Since announcing that he would be running as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) candidate, Carl Benjamin has been censored on Reddit, fully demonetized by YouTube, and had his Twitter campaign account shut down. Now on the eve of the European elections in which Benjamin is running, new leaked documents from inside Facebook are showing that the company has him listed as a potential “hate agent.”

The existence of this Orwellian internal list of people that Facebook deems to be “hate agents” was uncovered last week when documents from a Facebook insider were given to Breitbart News. These documents showed that the conservative commentator Candace Owens and the conservative author Brigitte Gabriel are both named on this list. The documents also explained how Facebook uses this list to keep tabs on people that it deems to be a potential “hate agents” and potentially terminate their account.

One of the ways Facebook decides whether to ban someone on this list is by looking at “signals” that indicate they’re “hate agents.” According to a new report from Breitbart News, Benjamin is listed as a potential “hate agent” and has one “level two signal” (which means that it occurred in the last two years) and multiple “level three signals” (which means they occurred within the last three years).

Breitbart News says that the “level two signal” is from October 21, 2018 and is related to giving a “neutral representation of John Kinsman, member of Proud Boys” which Facebook deems to be “praise or support for a designated Hate Entity.” This entry seems strange considering Facebook’s own notes describe it as “neutral” but Benjamin is being charged with praising or supporting a hate entity.

The “level three signals” reportedly relate to various posts from Benjamin’s Facebook and Instagram pages over the last three years. Some of these posts have been removed while others are still live on Benjamin’s pages. Some of these “signals” are also tagged as “borderline” but Facebook doesn’t explain how the “borderline” tag affects its decision-making process. The posts include examples of what Facebook deems to be “hate speech,” “slurs,” and other types of content that it finds problematic.

In addition to these “signals,” Breitbart News says there is also a separate “notes” section which lists further examples of posts from Benjamin that Facebook seems to want to keep tabs on. These posts include various examples of what Facebook describes as “bullying,” “mocking physical harm,” and other types of supposed infractions.

Breitbart News also notes that a lot of Benjamin’s posts in the “signals” and “notes” sections are tagged with “delete” but are currently still live. This indicates that Facebook may have decided not to follow these internal recommendations or that these posts may be scheduled for future deletion.

The report from Breitbart News also reveals that another political candidate, the founder of the For Britain party Anne-Marie Waters, is listed as a potential “hate agent” with two “level one signals” and two “level three signals.”

Additionally, the report gives more insights into how “hate speech” becomes a “signal.” It says:

  • Three instances of “hate speech” in one statement or appearance is a “signal”
  • Five instances of “hate speech” in multiple statements over one month is a “signal”

These troubling revelations about this internal “hate agents” list follow a number of other recent changes which restrict user behavior on Facebook. Over the last month, Facebook has been blocking posts and suspending accounts for posting photos of people who have been banned from the platform, associating with people that Facebook doesn’t approve of, and linking to websites that Facebook doesn’t like.

These reports that it lists electoral candidates as potential “hate agents” are also likely to add to the many allegations of election meddling that Facebook is already facing. Prior to the release of this latest report, Facebook deleted 23 major populist pages in Italy, refused to run political ads encouraging people to vote in the European elections, and introduced a number of problematic tools for policing “misinformation” in the run-up to the European elections.

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