A Project Veritas sting released Tuesday showed moderators on hidden-camera footage claiming that they delete pro-Trump and conservative posts; that the company harbors an anti-Trump bias, and that Facebook shadow-bans content, despite its claims to the contrary.
This came after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg claimed before congress that the company was “politically neutral”.
The Project Veritas video featured an interview with former content moderator Zach McElroy of Cognizant, a third-party firm used by Facebook to police the platform, who said that about three-quarters of the posts flagged for “civic harassment” tilted to the right.
“I saw a stark contrast between Republican versus Democrats in that queue,” said Mr. McElroy. “I saw upwards of 75% to 80% of the posts in that queue were from Republican pages, politicians, journalists, and pages that supported the president or supported conservatives.”
He said the content moderators, who lean heavily to the left, “are essentially in charge of what gets said and what gets stifled.”
“And in speaking with a lot of them, I found that they are not at all shy to exercise their political will in deleting or leaving up content, whether or not they’re allowed to or whether or not they’ll get penalized for it, especially when they’ve got nothing to lose, that is to say, they’re getting laid off,” Mr. McElroy said.
One man described as a moderator in Austin, Texas, called Facebook “a very progressive company who’s very anti-MAGA,” referring to President Trump’s Make America Great Again campaign slogan.
While Facebook has a hands-off policy on Mr. Trump’s posts, he said, “the fortunate thing is even if he does say something, if it gets repeated, we can at least get the average Joe.”
Another content moderator said, “I think they’re very biased about who they’re going to protect,” adding that he believes that Facebook shadow-bans, saying, “it’s clear that people’s content don’t come up because it’s been de-filtered off the queue.”
“They’re doing something, man. They’re just trying to pretend that they’re not,” he said.
Several moderators expressed anti-Trump sentiments. “Time to get the Cheeto out of office,” said one staffer.
Another man said that “like half the time when I delete people for pro-Trump sh*t, I’m like, you should be on a watch list, dude,” while a woman said that on her last day with the company, “If someone is wearing a MAGA hat, I am going to delete them for terrorism and just going to like go crazy.”
Mr. McElroy pointed to the disparate handling of two politically charged graphics: He said a drawing showing Mr. Trump bleeding from the mouth with a knife to his neck was allowed to remain on the platform, while a cartoon of Elmer Fudd “shooting” Democrat Beto O’Rourke was removed.
“There’s no difference between the two,” Mr. McElroy said. “There’s no logical reason why the determined reaction to those two posts would be different. They should be the same.”
Donald Trump Jr. tweeted that the Project Veritas investigation raised concerns about 2020 election meddling by social-media platforms, saying, “Enough is enough we can’t let them interfere with elections any longer.”