Facebook Too Slow At Removing Fake News

Facebook ignored or was slow to act on evidence that fake accounts on its platform have been undermining elections and political affairs around the world, according to an explosive memo sent by a recently fired Facebook employee.

A leaked internal memo data scientist Sophie Zhang, who was fired by Facebook, denounces the company’s handling of misinformation and election interference by authoritarian governments around the globe. The 6,600-word memo, has concrete examples of heads of government and political parties in Azerbaijan and Honduras using fake accounts or misrepresenting themselves to sway public opinion.

In countries including India, Ukraine, Spain, Brazil, Bolivia, and Ecuador, she found evidence of coordinated campaigns of varying sizes to boost or hinder political candidates or outcomes, though she did not always conclude who was behind them. Beyond specific examples from around the world, Zhang provided insight into the inner workings at Facebook. She criticised her team’s focus on issues related to “99% of activity that’s essentially spam.”

Mark Zuckerberg Facebook CEO has repeatedly cited free speech as the reason he continued to allow President Donald Trump to openly lie and incite violence on his platform. It is the reason he says he won’t delete coronavirus anti-virus content even if it threatens the health of users. It’s why right-wing disinformation continues to dominate the newsfeed. 

But when his own employees speak up about these issues and other social causes, like Black Lives Matter, Zuckerberg’s belief in free speech appears to have reached its limit. 

Zuckerberg has  told employees that from now on discussions about “divisive” topics would no longer be allowed to be posted just anywhere on the company’s own internal version of Facebook, known as Workplace. From now on, discussions about political and social issues would only be allowed to take place in specific areas of Workplace and that these discussions will be strictly monitored. 

Facebook’s management has faced unprecedented employee backlash in recent months over their handling of issues like political advertising and President Trump’s actions on the platform, which include the spread of misinformation, outright lies, and incitement to violence. During that time there has been a flood of leaks from within the company. 

Employees at Facebook use the Workplace internal messaging platform to discuss issues they have with how the company is run and often to organise efforts to get the management to change their positions on certain topics.

Facebook isn’t the only Silicon Valley company to restrict what its employees discuss at work. Last year Google limited employee discussion of politics and other issues, telling staff they should avoid debating matters unrelated to their jobs. 

Vice:     Buzzfeed:     Yahoo:      Gizmodo:    Reuters

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