What you need to know
- A new report says Facebook relaxed rules about misinformation for conservative pages.
- News outlets and personalities were allowed to spread misinformation and had strikes removed.
- Employees say this was done to stop negative publicity and complaints about bias.
A new NBC News report says that Facebook relaxed misinformation policies and let pages spread fake news in order to avoid accusations of anti-conservative bias.
The report says that "according to internal discussions in the last six months", Facebook relaxed rules for conservative pages including " Breitbart, former Fox News personalities Diamond and Silk, the nonprofit media outlet PragerU and the pundit Charlie Kirk", not penalizing them for violating Facebook rules about misinformation.
The report further states that Facebook escalated more than 30 queries about misinformation since February, deleting strikes as a result:
The internal discussions are backed up by two former and two current Facebook employees, who anonymously told NBC that "they believed the company had become hypersensitive to conservative complaints, in some cases making special allowances for conservative pages to avoid negative publicity."
Two-thirds of escalations included conservative pages such as Breitbart, Donald Trump Jr, Eric Trump, and Gateway Pundit. There were also escalations (one each) for CNN, CBS, Yahoo, and the WHO.
A Facebook spokesperson "did not dispute the authenticity of the leaked materials" but said it didn't paint the full picture. One specific instance notes a Diamond and Silk post falsely accusing Democrats of trying to give Congress members a $25 billion raise as part of a COVID-19 stimulus package:
The rating was appealed and downgraded, and the account had its "repeat offender" status removed. A "policy/leadership" employee at Facebook further stepped in and told teams to remove both strikes from the account. (It was Diamond and Silk's second such strike in 90 days)
The issue seems to have stoked a raging war within Facebook, as employees question why the company is trying to appease conservative outlets, even after research found no such bias:
The employee wrote on an internal message board:
The post was removed, the list of escalations was made private, and the employee fired.
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Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.
Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9