Facebook is importing censors from one of the most oppressive nations in the world – Communist China, the NY Post reports.
There are at least half a dozen “Chinese nationals who are working on censorship,” a former Facebook insider told me last week. “So at some point, they [Facebook bosses] thought, ‘Hey, we’re going to get them H-1B visas so they can do this work.’ ”
The insider shared an internal directory of the team that does much of this work. It’s called Hate-Speech Engineering, and most of its members are based at Facebook’s offices in Seattle. Many have Ph.D.s, and their work is extremely complex, involving machine learning — teaching “computers how to learn and act without being explicitly programmed,” as the techy Web site DeepAI.org puts it.
When it comes to censorship on social media, that means “teaching” the Facebook code, so certain content ends up at the top of your newsfeed, a feat that earns the firm’s software wizards discretionary bonuses, per the ex-insider. It also means making sure other content “shows up dead-last.”
They are Chinese nationals, and they take this censorship back to China to oppress that nation after they oppress Americans.
It all makes for perhaps the most chillingly sophisticated censorship mechanism in human history. “What they don’t do is ban a specific pro-Trump hashtag,” says the ex-insider. Instead, “content that is a little too conservative, they will down-rank. You can’t tell it’s censored.”
FB responded by saying it’s fine. They don’t influence policy.
A Facebook spokesperson denied that these employees influence broader policies. “We are a stronger company because our employees come from all over the world. Our standards and policies are public, including about our third-party fact-checking program, and designed to apply equally to content across the political spectrum. With over 35,000 people working on safety and security issues at Facebook, the insinuation that these employees have an outsized influence on our broader policies or technology is absurd.”