Report: Facebook Has Ignored ‘Politically Manipulative Behavior’ by Third-World Dictators and Politicians

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies via video conference, before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law hearing on "Online Platforms and Market Power" in the Rayburn House office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on July 29, 2020. (Photo by Graeme JENNINGS / POOL / AFP) …
GRAEME JENNINGS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The Guardian alleges in a recent report that Facebook has continued to allow world leaders and politicians to use its platform to lie to the public and harass political opponents, especially in third-world countries, despite being alerted to evidence of the situation.

In a recent report titled “Revealed: the Facebook loophole that lets world leaders deceive and harass their citizens,” the Guardian alleges that Facebook has repeatedly allowed world leaders and politicians to use its platform to deceive the public and harass opponents despite being alerted to the situation.

The Guardian states that it has seen extensive internal documentation showing how Facebook reacted to more than 30 cases across 25 countries of “politically manipulative behavior” that was detected by Facebook staff. Its investigation appears to show that Facebook allowed its platform to be abused in poor, small, and non-western countries in an effort to prioritize addressing issues that attract media attention or largely affect the United States and other wealthy countries.

Political manipulation that affected countries such as the U.S., Taiwan, South Korea, and Poland, were allegedly dealt with quickly while action taken against manipulation in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Mongolia, Mexico, and much of Latin America was slow to happen, if at all.

Sophie Zhang, a former data scientist who worked within Facebook’s “integrity” organization to fight inauthentic behavior, commented: “There is a lot of harm being done on Facebook that is not being responded to because it is not considered enough of a PR risk to Facebook. The cost isn’t borne by Facebook. It’s borne by the broader world as a whole.”

Zhang added: “Facebook doesn’t have a strong incentive to deal with this, except the fear that someone might leak it and make a big fuss, which is what I’m doing. The whole point of inauthentic activity is not to be found. You can’t fix something unless you know that it exists.”

A Facebook spokesperson told the Guardian:

We fundamentally disagree with Ms Zhang’s characterization of our priorities and efforts to root out abuse on our platform.

We aggressively go after abuse around the world and have specialized teams focused on this work. As a result, we’ve taken down more than 100 networks of coordinated inauthentic behavior. Around half of them were domestic networks that operated in countries around the world, including those in Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, and in the Asia Pacific region.

Combatting coordinated inauthentic behavior is our priority. We’re also addressing the problems of spam and fake engagement. We investigate each issue before taking action or making public claims about them.

However, Facebook did not dispute Zhang’s assertions about her time working at the company. Read more about the alleged manipulation by political leaders at the Guardian here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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