Facebook content moderators discussed using their positions to censor Republicans and conservatives in an undercover video released by activist group Project Veritas on Tuesday.
The video shows individual Facebook content moderators working for a third party contractor, Cognizant, expressing their eagerness to censor supporters of President Donald Trump. The footage also shows that CNN host Don Lemon was granted an “exception” by a Facebook for speech that would have otherwise violated Facebook’s rules against hate speech.
The footage includes a shot of an internal order to the Cognizant team instructing moderators not to censor a video of Lemon saying that white men are “the biggest terror threat in this country.”
“This is implying that white men are terrorists and so would typically violate [Facebook rules against “dehumanizing” speech]. As this is a newsworthy event, FB’s content policy team is allowing a narrow exception for this content on the platform,” a manager told moderators in a November 2018 message.
“Our reviewers work hard to keep our platform safe for billions of users every day,” a Facebook spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement. “The reviewers’ decisions are regularly evaluated to ensure our policies are applied fairly and accurately. We do not promote political viewpoints of any stripe and the comments included in this video are not consistent with our policies.”
Project Veritas also released an interview with former Cognizant content moderator Zach McElroy, as well as undercover footage McElroy secretly recorded.
“I’m thinking about, I’m thinking, delete like every Donald Trump post I see on the timeline,” McElroy tells a table full of Cognizant content moderators in another clip. “Oh, okay, I thought I was the only one,” another moderator replies.
Cognizant announced in October 2019 that it would begin winding down its content moderating agreement with Facebook.
In some of the videos, Cognizant employees appear to be more willing to delete content because they were in their last days of working as content moderators.
“You don’t let any go, do you? Like, if you see a conservative post you just get rid of it, right?” a Project Veritas operative asks a content moderator working for Cognizant. “Yes! I don’t give no fucks, I’ll delete it,” she answers.
“Even if it’s in policy, you’re deleting that, right?” the operative presses.
“Yeah, I don’t give no fucks. It’s like one week left. What are they gonna do?” she answers.
Another undercover clip shows a Cognizant content moderator saying she wanted to “delete all Republicans” on her last day. “If someone is wearing a MAGA hat, I am going to delete them for terrorism and just going to like go crazy,” she said.
The undercover footage, recorded by Project Veritas operatives and the former content moderator, doesn’t show evidence of a top-down organized system of political discrimination at Facebook. But Project Veritas CEO James O’Keefe says it does show an “anti-conservative culture” that yields anti-conservative results.
Project Veritas is a conservative activist group known for conducting hidden camera investigations.
The group has had mixed results in the past. Project Veritas in November 2019 published a video of ABC News anchor Amy Robach complaining that the network shut down an investigation into Jeffrey Epstein.
The activist group also appeared to get caught in an attempted sting operation targeting Washington Post reporters during the 2017 special election for one of Alabama’s two U.S. Senate seats.