Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been caught on camera bashing the leakers who exposed the social media giant’s alleged censorship of users’ concerns about COVID-19 vaccines in yet another leak.
Last month, Morgan Kahmann, a former data center technician, and another Facebook worker anonymously revealed documents to Project Veritas allegedly showing a ‘beta’ version of a Facebook algorithm targeted anti-vaxxers.
Now another insider has come forward to Project Veritas with video appearing to show Zuckerberg and Melinda Davenport, Facebook’s internal communications director, and others prioritizing punishing leakers over acknowledging censorship.
Davenport began the virtual conversation by acknowledging a number of Facebook staffers had asked about the situation.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been caught on camera bashing the leakers who exposed the social media giant’s alleged censorship of users’ concerns about COVID-19 vaccines in yet another leak
Morgan Kahmann, a former data center technician, anonymously revealed documents allegedly showing a ‘beta’ version of a Facebook algorithm targeted anti-vaxxers
‘So Project Veritas posted another video based on leaked materials that expose our colleagues’ names and also put them at risk,’ she said.
‘So what are we doing to actually stop leakers? And how are we keeping our colleagues safe?’
Zuckerberg then responded that Facebook gets ‘a lot of questions’ about whether the companies tries to find people who ‘leak stuff’.
‘I’ve been clear that we have a number of efforts to find people and we terminate people and pursue the recourse that we have when we identify them. And in this case, we did find them,’ Zuckerberg said.
‘It’s kind of the flip side of the coin for having an open culture is we can be open and we can share a lot of stuff, but we also need to be very good at rooting out people who are leaking stuff.’
He continued: ‘I think over the last year there have been more leaks than I think all of us would have wanted but we also, you know, find a lot of the folks and terminate them.’
Morgan Kahmann appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight and said he decided to come forward because he believed it was ‘highly immoral’ that Facebook is allegedly censoring the content of its users without their knowledge
Facebook’s deputy general counsel Heidi Swartz noted Facebook has a ‘zero tolerance’ policy and will fire and take ‘legal action’ against leakers.
‘Project Veritas released a video last week alleging that they had uncovered a new effort to censor vaccine concerns globally,’ Swartz said.
‘It was based on leaked documents about a health integrity program that we have in place that combats vaccine hesitancy by taking a hard stance against vaccine misinformation.’
Swartz said that the ‘vaccine hesitancy’ censorship campaign was not a ‘new effort’ and that Facebook had ‘proudly spoken’ about it publicly on its blog.
She insisted ‘damage’ was done when the names of the employees who oversaw the program were exposed while stressing how leaks affect employees at the company.
‘Once documents are out of the company, it’s very hard for us to control what happens to them. It’s hard for us to control what media outlets are gonna do with them. And they almost always include employee names,’ Swartz said.
‘So leaking really puts our colleagues at risk. And the same is true when employees leak our Q&As. When these things happen to our employees, our Legal and HR and Global Security teams support them that we want to ensure people’s safety. But as you can imagine, this is incredibly upsetting and very distressing for our colleagues.’
Swartz happily confirmed Facebook fired Kahmann last week, adding that the company continued to investigate additional potential leakers.
‘One thing this case does show, though, is that leaks are always bad for the company. They threaten our open culture, as Mark said. They make it harder for us to achieve our goals. And they generally encourage more leaks,’ she said.
‘I know that some people here feel there are good leaks and there are bad leaks. But they’re all damaging and they’re not the right way to bring about change, especially in a company like this where people are free to share their opinion.’
She added, ‘You may think you’re leaking because you want to hold leadership accountable or that you’re on the right side of history, but that is very subjective and you may not have all the information to make that call.’
Kahmann later appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight and said he decided to come forward because he believed it was ‘highly immoral’ that Facebook is allegedly censoring the content of its users without their knowledge.
He alleged to Carlson that posts that went ‘outside of the realm’ of promoting vaccines is considered ‘vaccine hesitancy’ by Facebook’s algorithms.
‘They’re afraid of what people might conclude if they see that other people are having negative side effects. They think that this is going to drive up vaccine hesitancy among the population and they see that as something that they have to combat,’ Kahmann said.
Kahmann told Carlson that Facebook’s alleged actions went against his ‘moral compass.’
‘The users at Facebook are not aware that this is going on and if you’re using Facebook or a social platform and they’re censoring the content of your comments unbeknownst to you, I think that’s highly immoral,’ he said.
Kahmann told Carlson that Facebook managers ordered him to stop working and escorted him to his car after collecting his equipment and his access badge.
He claims that he was told an ‘investigatory meeting’ would be scheduled with him that was canceled.
Kahmann said that that the consequences he faced ‘don’t really weigh much’ when it comes to having to live with himself.
‘I saw these documents and I had to opportunity to, you know, show the public this and what’s going on behind the scenes and I didn’t do it, and so I wouldn’t be able to live with myself after that,’ he said.
Kahmann and another Facebook employee came forward with their leaked documents on Monday, alleging that the social network is censoring skeptics of the COVID-19 vaccine by demoting user comments by way of an algorithm that calculates a ‘vaccine hesitancy score.’
The documents purport to show that the beta version was being tested on 1.5 per cent of some 3.8 billion users of Facebook and its subsidiary, Instagram, around the world.
‘Based on that VH score, we will demote or leave the comment alone depending on the content within the comment,’ one of the whistleblowers told Project Veritas.
James O’Keefe, the head of Project Veritas, interviewed an anonymous whistleblower who claimed to provide documents showing that Facebook was demoting or removing content from those who expressed skepticism of the COVID-19 vaccine
In a statement to Project Veritas, a spokesman said: ‘We proactively announced this policy on our company blog and also updated our help center with this information.’
Project Veritas says it obtained the purportedly leaked documents from the whistleblowers.
The title of the document reads ‘Vaccine Hesitancy Comment Demotion.’
In its ‘executive summary’ section, it states that the goal is to ‘drastically reduce user exposure to vaccine hesitancy (VH) in comments.’
The document states that ‘reducing the visibility of these comments represents another significant opportunity for us to remove barriers to vaccination that users on the platform may potentially encounter.’
Facebook’s aim is to ‘decrease in other engagement of VH comments including crate, likes, reports [and] replies.’
‘The narrative [is] get the vaccine, the vaccine is good for you, everyone should get it,’ the documents state.
‘If you don’t, you will be singled out as an enemy of society.’
One whistleblower told O’Keefe that Facebook wants to ‘build a community where everyone complies – not where people can have an open discourse and dialogue about the most personal and private and intimate decisions.’
‘It doesn’t match the narrative,’ the whistleblower said.
‘The narrative being, get the vaccine, the vaccine is good for you. Everyone should get it.
‘And if you don’t, you will be singled out.’
Project Veritas unveiled documents it claims to have obtained from the whistleblowers. The title of the document reads ‘Vaccine Hesitancy Comment Demotion.’ In its ‘executive summary’ section, it states that the goal is to ‘drastically reduce user exposure to vaccine hesitancy (VH) in comments.’
The company documents recommend ‘action mapping’ which involves either demoting or outright removing comments depending on the severity of the violation, according to Project Veritas
The system set up by the social network ranks users into tiers that grade comments based on the degree to which they are aimed at dissuading others from getting inoculated, according to Project Veritas.
‘Tier 0’ is assigned to any comments that ‘coordinate harm’ by ‘promoting interference with the administration of a vaccine, including an event, group, page, account, etc dedicated to this purpose.’
That tier is also assigned to any comment that ‘advocates’ or ‘promotes’ that ‘others not get a vaccine.’
‘Tier 1’ is for any comments that express ‘alarmism and criticism’ of the vaccines, including ‘disparaging others on the basis of their choice to vaccinate.’
‘T1’ is also assigned to comments that ‘suggest or imply that vaccines are unsafe, ineffective, sacrilegious, or irrelevant.’
‘Tier 2’ comments are those that offer ‘indirect discouragement’ against taking the vaccine by speculating on ‘unproven or severe side effects or death.’
The company documents recommend ‘action mapping’ which involves either demoting or outright removing comments depending on the severity of the violation, according to Project Veritas.
‘What’s remarkable about these private documents that Facebook has not wanted you to see until tonight is that ‘Tier 2′ [violation] says even if the facts are true that you will be targeted and demoted – your comments will be targeted and demoted,’ O’Keefe told Fox News.
‘They don’t want you to know that they are doing this. And this is the town square as you all know. We are trying to retake our town square,’ he said.
‘They are demoting your comments and de-boosting you on Facebook without you knowing that they are doing that.
‘And they are obviously terrified of this report because they are responding to Project Veritas before they would attack us or ignore us. There is more to come.’
On its company blog, Facebook acknowledges that it reduces the visibility of content that may not violate company policy but does ‘discourage someone from getting vaccinated.’