Home tech Conservatives say Facebook is suppressing much of their content. Here's what the...

Conservatives say Facebook is suppressing much of their content. Here's what the experts say

Chris White | Energy Reporter

  • According to technology experts, a new report suggesting that Facebook is using a secret code to disrupt conservative content is scarce on the evidence.
  • It is likely that reports showing that Facebook suppresses conservative content could be exaggerated, experts warn. Examples of Facebook's conservative content for data removal could be evidence of the company's inability to moderate its platform.
  • Facebook's inability to be transparent about the limits of artificial intelligence is creating many problems for the social media giant, warns an artificial intelligence researcher.

Technology experts are criticizing a recent Project Veritas report that suggests that Facebook is involved in a secret project designed to suppress the conservative content on the platform.

Project Veritas founder James O & # 39; Keefe produced a report in February, suggesting that Facebook is suppressing the distribution of conservative pages. The report included documents from an insider who claimed that the company's engineers were using a piece of code designed to eliminate suicide videos as a tool to disrupt conservative content.

The tool that the insider saw during his stay on Facebook was labeled Sigma: ActionDeboostLiveDistribution, which is a type of artificial intelligence that does a real-time voice-to-text analysis of streaming videos, so it records the text and try to decipher what the text content means.

The content of The Daily Caller, Internet expert Mike Cernovich and others has allegedly been targeted with this tool, according to the insider. (RELATED: the daily caller editor has blocked the "Learn To Code" tweeting account)

The Project Veritas report also included a memo from Facebook engineer Seiji Yamamoto, who reportedly told a colleague that Facebook should "… have quite a bit of content near the perimeter of the # 39; hatred. " Yamamoto, a data science manager, and others discussed in the memo the best way to gather information on the behavior of trolls on the Internet in order to stop supposedly malicious content.

Screenshot of the Facebook internal memo explaining the reason for removing the Mike Cernovich page (Screenshot)

The report gained some traction on Twitter after its release, but rose to a higher level after Donald Trump Jr. wrote an editorial on March 17th about conservative censorship technology. He mentioned the report by O & # 39; Keefe in the piece, writing that "we now know Mark Zuckerberg & # 39;The social media giant has developed algorithms to "drop" certain content, limiting its distribution and appearance in news feeds. "

Software engineers are now creating holes in Project Veritas conclusions. Neil Stevens, director of information technology at The Daily Caller, believes there is not much evidence to support the conclusion of the O&K group. Stevens is responsible for creating and maintaining websites for both TheDC and The Daily Caller News Foundation.

"Facebook is trying to block the content of suicides but it does it cheaply. Instead of using humans to monitor videos, they are using artificial intelligence / machine learning systems to scan amounts of video without human intervention," he told TheDCNF. "And in this case, he failed," said Stevens, referring to the content that K & Efe provided as evidence of the fact that Facebook is tearing apart the conservatives.

Another likely scenario is that Facebook took note of how Internet trolls were jumping into YouTube videos and editing them to include clips of people promoting suicide. Such videos might seem normal until a halfway jump reveals a person demonstrating how to cut a wrist. Facebook has tried to use this specific code to empty this content, but their AI has experienced false positives, believes Stevens.

Screenshot of the internal Facebook guide explaining the reason for the removal of Mike Cernovich's video content (screenshot provided by Project Veritas)

Facebook has faced criticism of the censorship of individuals, many of them conservatives, although some Democrats are also harming the Silicon Valley giant. The Democratic senator from Massachusetts, Senator Elizabeth Warren, for example, has argued for the rupture of what he considers the monopoly of Facebook and Amazon. Conservatives in the meantime have hammered the company over the past few years due to censorship concerns.

President Donald Trump's social media director, Dan Scavino Jr., was temporarily blocked on March 18 by posting public comments on Facebook. The ban stated that "some of your comments were reported as spam" and that "to avoid being blocked again", it should "make sure your messages are in line with the standards of the Facebook community". The president assured his supporters in a March 19 tweet that he will "look at this!" His tweet is linked to a story on Facebook that targets Scavino.

Other engineers have made similar observations. Emily Williams, a data scientist and founder of Whole Systems Enterprises, for example, has argued that Facebook's lack of transparency on the frailties of their profound learning tools makes it difficult for people to understand why and how the content he is suffocated. (RELATED: GOP Lawmakers Grill Giants of social media on alleged censorship of conservatives, yet)

FOTO FILE: a Facebook logo printed in 3D is placed on a broken glass above an EU flag printed in this illustration taken on 28 January 2019. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / Illustration / Photo File

"I think it's a very long stretch," he said, referring to the belief that Facebook is using the code for something other than emptying content that promotes suicide. "If Facebook came out and was transparent, it would be one thing, but many people are arrogant and don't want to admit that their algorithms are imperfect," said Williams, whose company provides AI solutions for a variety of sectors.

He added: "If I tried to eliminate extremists, I would not use this code. These codes are very good for what they were trained for, but not very good for anything else." Facebook is a profit-making company, so if he wanted to address conservatives or liberals, he probably wouldn't use a code for a purpose other than what was designed to do, Williams noted.

A more efficient process would be "to write an algorithm that seeks to find those people in a specific way. Write one for the far left and the far right. And a different one for ISIS and neo-Nazis," he said. Stevens reflected his comments, telling TheDCNF that the use of the code for reasons other than the stated purpose is likely to create a much higher rate of false positives, which could affect the content of the platform.

Facebook fired the insider in 2018 for breaking many work policies, a company spokesman told TheDCNF. Project Veritas spokesman, Marco Bruno, told TheDCNF that his group is behind the report of O & # 39; Keefe. "We trust what our insider saw behind closed doors and the documents he leaked, more than what Facebook will say on a podium," said Bruno.

A Facebook spokesperson directed TheDCNF in a section of the company's policy page, which explains that sometimes deboost occurs on the platform when users upload pre-recorded videos to the Facebook Live feature. The company has tools that detect when a person has abused the feature and can then ask the AI ​​to restart non-live videos. Live videos are considered more noteworthy and therefore have priority.

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