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theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer. katherine molé mfa ... art director
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
BIG TECH COLLUSION? Whistleblower CLAIMS Facebook, Twitter, Google Units TEAM UP on CONTENT to BAN, Hawley Reveals
Zuckerberg says companies coordinate on 'security-related topics,' but not content moderation decisions
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., on Tuesday pressed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on a newly revealed whistleblower complaint alleging that Facebook employees coordinate with Twitter and Google employees to make certain content moderation decisions.
Hawley said a former Facebook employee "with direct knowledge of the company’s content moderation practices" contacted his office about an "internal platform called Tasks that Facebook uses to coordinate projects, including censorship."
"The platform reflects censorship input from Google and Twitter, as well," Hawley alleged. "...Facebook censorship teams communicate with their counterparts at Twitter and Google and then enter those companies' suggestions for censorship onto the Task platform so that Facebook can follow up with them and effectively coordinate their censorship efforts."
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., asking questions during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Facebook and Twitter's actions around the closely contested election. (Bill Clark/Pool via AP)
Hawley also tweeted a screenshot of an apparent Tasks page on Tuesday afternoon.
Zuckerberg said Facebook uses the Tasks system for "people coordinating all kinds of work across the company," adding later that the company did "coordinate on and share signals on security-related topics," such as "a terrorist attack or around child exploitation imagery or around a foreign government creating an influence operation."
Facebook confirmed to FOX Business that Tasks has been used as a company-wide to-do list, and that the company has been public about working with other companies and organizations to address security concerns. Neither Twitter nor Google immediately commented.
The Missouri senator went on to ask whether Facebook, Twitter and Google employees coordinated content moderation decisions regarding "individuals, websites, hashtags [or] phrases to ban."
"Senator, we do not coordinate our policies," Zuckerberg said, adding later, however, that he "would expect that some level of communication."
Hawley also brought up a platform called Centra mentioned in the whistleblower's complaint. The complaint alleged that Facebook used Centra "to track its users, not just on Facebook, but across the entire internet."
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is seen testifying remotely during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/Pool
"Centra tags different profiles that a user visits, their message recipients, their linked accounts [and] the pages they visit around the web that have Facebook buttons," Hawley said. "Centra also uses behavioral data to monitor users’ accounts, even if they’re registered under a different name."
Facebook confirmed to FOX Business that the platform used Centrato centralize and aid investigations into complex subjects such as coordinated inauthentic behavior.
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., further pressed Zuckerberg on the subject, asking him to address concerns about how systems such as Tasks "could be used across platforms to force certain outcomes."
The Facebook founder said he thought "coordination specifically on policies or enforcement decisions could be problematic."
"What we do is share signals around potential harms that we’re seeing," like terrorism and foreign interference. Zuckerberg repeated that each company would make its own respective moderation decisions, which he said was "very different than saying the companies are coordinating to figure out what the policies should be."