In April 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the US Congress that his company did not have a political bias in the way it was programming its machine learning-powered algorithms to flag content.
In a testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, responding to Republican lawmakers, Zuckerberg said that algorithms produced by his company to determine which content was allowed and which banned on the giant platform were not “directed” in any way to enforce political or other bias.
But now the latest Project Veritas investigation features a Facebook insider who is suggesting that in reality, content moderation is being carried out in a way that demonstrates discriminatory bias against Republicans and conservatives in general.
The insider is Zack McElroy, who came forward with evidence in the form of hidden camera recordings, to say that compared to Democrat-leaning content, there is stark contrast between posts by Republican and conservative politicians, journalists, and supporters that ends up flagged and put in what moderators call “Civic Harassment Cue.”
75 to 80% of this content comes from Republican pages, McElroy, who was working as Facebook/Cognizant moderator out of Tampa, Florida, told Project Veritas.
Human moderation is done by Cognizant, a Facebook’s contractor, while flagging is done by algorithms. When asked what the ratio putting conservative content at a clear disadvantage on Facebook told him about the algorithm, McElroy noted that while algorithms are not human, they are programmed by humans – somebody at Facebook has to write them to single out content the way they do.
This insider’s concern seems to be the power of Facebook as a digital platform for dissemination and exchange of information, and how stifling conservative voices in such a way might impact, or even interfere in the November presidential election in the US.
He sees censorship as “the biggest” issue in this time leading up to the election, and also testified not only to a bias in the flagging mechanism, but also to not seeing many conservatives among the human moderators contracted to work for Facebook.
And McElroy is not convinced by Zuckerberg saying many times that his company provides a free speech platform for everyone.
“We know privately that they have very different opinions,” he said.