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Facebook ‘Employee Error’ Responsible for PragerU 99.9999% Drop in Reach

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is preparing to testify on Capitol Hill -- a critical appearance by the CEO as lawmakers examine data privacy mistakes by the social network
AFP

PragerU’s recent Facebook shadowbanning was reportedly due to a single “employee error” — this employee has been sent for guideline re-education but is still employed by the company.

Breitbart News spoke with PragerU recently following their issues with Facebook, the conservative non-profit found that many recent posts from their page were suffering from a 99.9999 percent drop in engagement based on Facebook’s own dashboard. The Social Media Masters of the Universe also pulled down two PragerU videos, which it labeled “hate speech.”

Since then, Facebook has apologized to PragerU, stating that the removal of videos was an error. A Facebook spokesperson said in a statement: “The videos in question were mistakenly removed. While we continue to research what caused this error, we have restored the content because it does not break our Community Standards and apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

According to PragerU, Facebook contacted the non-profit about the issue and explained that the reason PragerU’s videos were removed is that a large number of users flagged the PragerU posts as inappropriate. The videos were then sent to a content review team where one of the employees reviewed them and decided to remove the videos as “hate speech.” Facebook told PragerU that the employee behind the removal of the videos and limiting of its Facebook page will be re-trained to better understand Facebook’s guidelines.

PragerU questioned if the SPLC had influenced Facebook’s decision to remove their videos to which Facebook replied that the SPLC does not write their hate speech policy but they send content that they think is hateful and Facebook review team reviews that. Facebook said that the SPLC is no different than any other group and that anyone can suggest hateful content. Facebook was adamant that the SPLC had nothing to do with the issues that PragerU faced.

Facebook is not the first Silicon Valley titan that PragerU has tangled with. In 2017, PragerU brought a lawsuit against Google alleging that the tech company’s YouTube division was violating the First Amendment by censoring free speech. PragerU, which was founded by conservative radio host Dennis Prager and produces short, graphics-based videos relating to conservatism, claimed in their lawsuit that “Google/YouTube uses their restricted mode filtering not to protect younger or sensitive viewers from ‘inappropriate’ video content, but as a political gag mechanism to silence PragerU.”

Google initially declined to comment on the lawsuit but later issued the following statement.

YouTube is an open platform and, to make it a great place for users, creators and advertisers, we provide different choices and settings. Restricted Mode is an optional feature used by a small subset of users to filter out videos that may include sensitive or mature content. Giving viewers the choice to opt in to a more restricted experience is not censorship. In fact, this is exactly the type of tool that Congress has encouraged online services to provide for parents and others interested in a more family-friendly experience online.

Since then, Presiding U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh ruled against PragerU stating that: “Defendants do not appear to be at all like, for example, a private corporation that governs and operates all municipal functions for an entire town or one that has been given control over a previously public sidewalk or park, or one that has effectively been delegated the task of holding and administering public elections.”

Dennis Prager commented on the decision in an appearance on Breitbart News Daily with Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow. Prager explained, “See when we sued Google which owns YouTube, the judge said that their claim to be neutral is quote ‘mere puffery’ which is a term used — both positive and negative — if a car salesman says ‘listen this is the best car in the world,’ nobody says he’s lying even though he’s not telling the truth, it’s mere puffery.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan_ or email him at lnolan@breitbart.com

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