Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently stressed the company’s commitment to freedom of speech in an op-ed for USA Today. But an undercover investigation by Project Veritas into the world of Facebook’s third-party content moderators casts doubt on that commitment.
The investigation revealed the liberal culture fostered inside Cognizant, a company under contract with Facebook to remove the content as it sees fit. Project Veritas insider Zach McElroy stated that in the Civic Harassment Queue at Cognizant, “I saw upwards of 75 to 80 percent of the posts in that queue were from Republican pages.”
The Civic Harassment Queue was a list of all the posts that had been flagged for violations of the Community Guidelines. McElroy said, “So, for 75 to 80 percent of the posts to be targeting Republicans and conservatives, you can say it was a bot. But somebody had to design that algorithm. So really, somebody at Facebook.”
Cognizant, according to CNET, has 1,000 employees in its Phoenix office who evaluate Facebook posts every day. The company recently decided to wind down its commitments with Facebook but is reportedly continuing operations in 2020. Several unnamed moderators from Cognizant were caught on camera saying that they would remove Trump supporters’ posts, even if those posts were not in violation.
An unnamed moderator said that it’s “common sense” to delete posts that have #MAGA in them.
One journalist asked, “If you see a conservative post you just get rid of it, right?” The unnamed moderator responded, saying, “Yes! I don’t give no fucks, I’ll delete it.” Daniel Will, a content moderator at Cognizant, said to the camera, “Facebook shadowbans. Facebook is notorious for it, they say they don’t but, it’s clear that people’s content don’t come because it’s been de-filtered off the queue.”
Someone asked on camera, “How many of you are like, take your own stance and say we’re just deleting whatever, all the Trump posts?” An unnamed moderator said, “There are probably like 16 of us.”
A service delivery manager was reportedly caught on camera saying, “Gotta get the Cheeto (Trump) out of office.”
McElroy noted that the culture at Cognizant was very liberal in nature. (2:48) “I saw everybody around me and I saw myself, and I did a little bit of comparing and I thought, you know, there really are not that many conservatives here.”
He took screenshots of a memo saying that a poster which showed President Donald Trump’s head being cut off would not be flagged as hate speech. A meme that showed a cartoon of Elmer Fudd shooting at former Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke was allegedly flagged as hate speech.
In another screenshot, one memo read, “CNN host Don Lemon recently said ‘white men are the biggest terror threat in this country.’ This is implying that white men are terrorists and so would typically violate (HS Tier 1-2 1:6 dehumanizing speech). As this is a newsworthy event, FB’s content policy team is allowing a narrow exception for this content on the platform.”
Robert Miller, a moderator at Cognizant, said to the undercover camera about the Civic Harassment Queue, “Yeah. It’s all Republicans. But a lot of it comes off of Trump’s page specific — uh, specifically.”