Last week, it was revealed that Facebook maintains a creepy internal list of “hate agents” which it uses to keep tabs on people and recommend whether their account should be removed from the platform. Now new leaks from a Facebook insider have shown that the instructions on this internal list say that private statements which become public may be considered “hate speech” by Facebook and could be used as the grounds for account termination.
These new leaks were sent to Breitbart News and reportedly show that the “hate agents” list features mostly right-wing figures and some left-wing figures. The names on the list include Brigitte Gabriel, a conservative author and founder of the non-profit ACT! For America, and the conservative commentator Candace Owens.
Breitbart News says that some of the people are also listed alongside “signals” that they might be “hate agents” according to Facebook and that these “signals” are split into three categories:
- Level one: Signals that occurred in the past year
- Level two: Signals that occurred in the last two years
- Level three: Signals that occurred in the last three years
The list reportedly gives examples of these signals which include:
- Acts of violence from supporters
- Calls for violence
- Hate speech
- Possession of “hate paraphernalia”
- Support for a “designated hate entity” or “designated hateful ideology”
- The promotion of ethnostates
Breitbart News adds that the list also contains a “recommendations” section for everyone that's listed and that Facebook employees can use this section to recommend whether people should be categorized as “hate agents” and whether they should have their Facebook account removed.
One of the most worrying aspects of this list is that, according to Breitbart News, it says public statements, or statements made in private and later made public can be categorized as “hate speech” by Facebook. This means if private conversations are leaked by other parties and Facebook doesn't approve of these conversations, they could now be used as grounds for account termination, even if they took place off Facebook and happened a long time ago.
This appears to be happening with Gabriel. The notes section of her account reportedly says “FB: 1 lifetime deletion for hate speech – dehumanizing” and this is based on comments Gabriel made in 2007 and 2015 which is outside the three-year window for “signals” that Facebook describes in the leaked documents. Not only is Facebook combing through comments that are more than 10 years old to find supposed examples of “hate speech” but Gabriel says that it's also taking these comments out of context in order to classify them as “hate speech.”
This wouldn't be the first time the methods Facebook uses to identify “hate speech” have been scrutinized. It recently blocked President Trump's Advisory Board member Jenna Ellis Rives because it deemed one of her pro-life posts to be “hate speech.” Facebook has also previously taken down harmless memes for supposedly violating its rules around “hate speech.”
Facebook cracking down on private conversations for potential “hate speech” follows a number of creepy and invasive changes it's recently made in an attempt to strictly police user behavior on the platform. Now things as innocuous as mentioning certain people, posting photos of certain people, associating with certain people, or linking to certain types of content are all prohibited by Facebook.