Facebook Insider Leak: Policing Hate or Political Speech

By Miguel Moreno

An unidentified former Facebook insider has given documents to Project Veritas that describe how Facebook engineers plan to police political speech. Project Veritas is a nonprofit founded by James O’Keefe, with the mission of investigating and exposing corruption and other malpractices in private and public institutions.

A technical action named ActionDeboostLiveDistribution was found on different conservative pages, including the pages of Mike Cernovich, Steven Crowder, and the Daily Caller, according to the insider. The technical action is believed to “limit the visibility of a video” by removing the ability to share, go live, or to notify other users.

Attached to the deboost tag is the word Sigma. According to Project Veritas, Sigma is an artificial intelligence system that blocks potential content related to self-harm and suicide based on keywords it finds after translating the video into text.

However, Cernovich and Crowder do not recall producing anything like that on Facebook, according to Project Veritas. Cernovich also said he has always spoken against suicide and self-harm.

Marked Without Notice

Usually, when content is taken down from Facebook the user is notified, but when users are tagged with ActionDeboostLiveDistribution, they are not. The Facebook insider was then asked if she believes Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg knows if this is happening.

“I do not know what Mark Zuckerberg knows or does not know,” said the insider in an interview with Project Veritas. “However … at some point he does need to know what’s going on with the company.”

The insider did not find the deboost tag in left-wing pages, like The Young Turks and Colin Kaepernick.

‘Perimeters of Hate Speech’

A presentation called “Coordinating Trolling on FB” was included in the documents. The presentation was authored by Facebook engineers Seiji Yamamoto and Eduardo Arino de la Rubia.

The company’s actions and potential future actions aimed at combating abusive behavior on Facebook is described in the presentation. So what qualifies as abusive behavior?

In one of the documents Yamamoto said, “We all agree that hate speech needs to be stopped, but there’s quite a bit of content near the perimeter of hate speech that we need to address as well.” The insider believes that “perimeters of hate speech” means anything that isn’t hate speech but may offend someone.

“It was clearly kind of designed … aimed to be the right wing meme culture that’s become extremely prevalent in the past few years,” said the insider. “And some of the words that appeared on there were, using words like SJW [Social Justice Warrior] … MSM [Main Stream Media] … The New York Times doesn’t talk about the MSM. The independent conservative outlets are using that language.”

For an in-depth report of the insider’s documents, visit Project Veritas.