At the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on Big Tech censorship today, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) confronted Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with evidence of an internal tool used by the social network to coordinate censorship with Google and Twitter.
The tool, called Tasks, is used improve the workflow of Facebook employees, but is also used by Facebook employees to collaborate with Google and Twitter in censoring users across platforms, according to Sen. Hawley.
Hawley also revealed the existence of a second tool called Centra that Facebook uses to track users across the internet even when they think they are anonymous.
“Your companies are the most powerful companies in the world, and I want to talk about how you’re coordinating together to control information,” said Hawley.
Whistleblower says @Twitter and @Google routinely suggest censorship topics – hashtags, individuals, websites, many of them conservative – and @Facebook logs them for follow-up on Tasks. But Zuck REFUSES under oath to turn over list of @Twitter or @Google mentions on Tasks
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) November 17, 2020
“The Tasks platform allows Facebook employees to communicate about projects they are working on together. That includes Facebook’s censorship teams, including the so-called Community Wellbeing team, the Integrity team, and the Hate Speech engineering team, who all use the Tasks platform to discuss which individuals, or hashtags, or websites to ban.”
Mark Zuckerberg admitted that the Tasks system exists and is used to coordinate work across the company.
“I’m not sure if I’d agree with the characterizations, especially around content moderation, that you gave,” said the Facebook CEO.
Hawley then showed the hearing a screenshot of the Tasks platform in use.
“What particularly intrigued me is the fact that the platform reflects censorship input from Google and Twitter as well. So Facebook, as I understand it, communicate with their counterparts at Twitter and Google and then enter those companies’ suggestions for censorship onto the Tasks platform so that Facebook can then follow up with them and effectively coordinate their censorship efforts.”
Hawley then asked Zuckerberg, under oath, if Facebook coordinates its content moderation policies “in any way” with Google or Twitter.
“Senator, let me be clear about this,” said Zuckerberg. “We do coordinate on, and share signals on security-related topics, so for example if there is a signal around a terrorist attack, or around child exploitation imagery, or around a foreign government creating an influence operation … That is an area where the companies do share signals about what they see.”
Zuckerberg stressed that this is “distinct from the content moderation policies that we or the other companies have, where once we share intelligence or signals between the companies, each company makes its own assessment of the right way to address and deal with that information.”
“I’m talking about individuals, websites, hashtags, phrases to ban,” said Hawley. “Is it your testimony that you do not communicate with Twitter or Google about content moderation? About individuals, websites, phrases, hashtags, to ban?”
“I would expect that some level of communication probably happens,” admitted Zuckerberg, but stressed that this is “different to coordinating what our polices are, or our responses in specific instances.”
Hawley then asked Zuckerberg if he would commit, under oath, to provide the Judiciary Committee with a list of every mention of Google and Twitter from the Tasks platform. Zuckerberg would not offer such a commitment.
“Senator Cruz and Senator Lee both asked you for lists of individuals, websites, entities that have been subject to content moderation. You expressed doubt about whether any such information exists,” said Hawley.
“But you’ve acknowledged the Tasks platform exists, that it is searchable, so will you commit to providing the information that you logged on the Tasks website about content moderation that your company has undertaken? Yes or no.”
The Facebook CEO again refused to offer a clear commitment, instead saying he would “discuss” the request with his team.
“Alright, so you won’t commit to do it here,” said Hawley. “We could of course subpoena this information — but I’d much rather get it from you voluntarily. But let everyone take note that Mr. Zuckerberg has now repeatedly refused to provide information that he knows that he has, and has now acknowledged that he has, that Tasks has, under oath.”
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. His new book, #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election, which contains exclusive interviews with sources inside Google, Facebook, and other tech companies, is currently available for purchase.