Facebook censors had to manually intervene to stop a controversial New York Post story about Hunter Biden, according to leaked censorship instructions seen by the Guardian.
The document details Facebook’s policies for the handling of misinformation on Facebook and Instagram, shedding light on the process that led to the company’s decision to reduce dispersion of stories.
Facebook̵7;s chief policy communications officer, Andy Stone, said: “This story qualifies for data testing by Facebook’s third-party data audit partners. “In the meantime, we are reducing its distribution on our platform. This is part of our standard process to reduce the spread of misinformation. We are temporarily reducing delivery while waiting for reviewer to review ”
In fact, the documents show, the New York Post – like most major websites – has been treated specifically as part of Facebook’s standard process. Stories can be “queued” for Facebook’s third-party auditors in one of two ways: by being flagged by the AI or by being manually added by one of the auditors themselves. investigation.
Facebook’s AI looks for signals “including feedback from the community and untrusted comments” to automatically predict which posts might contain misinformation. “The provisional prediction content (for seven days) is slightly reduced in the feed (at 50% strength) and placed in the veracity test for review by [third-party factcheckers], ”Said the document.
But some articles are not automatically demoted. Sites on the “Alexa 5K” list, “which includes content that is in the top 5,000 most popular websites on the internet”, are said to hold a high level of distribution, “under the assumption that these sites are unavailable. spreading false information ”.
However, those rules can be manually overwritten. “In some cases, we manually sort content… with or without a temporary dismissal. We may do this on the basis of a report and based on whether the content qualifies for authenticity verification, is involved in an important issue and shows signs of tampering. are not “. The US election is an “important matter”.
In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said: “When our CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress earlier this week, we were on high alert because of FBI intelligence on the possibility. hacking and leaked activities aimed at spreading false information. Based on that risk and consistent with our existing policies and procedures, we have made the decision to temporarily restrict content distribution while our factor reviewers have the chance to Assembly to review that content. When that didn’t happen, we lifted our dismissal. ”
The guidelines also revealed Facebook has prepared a “glass shattering measure” for the US election, allowing its censors to impose a set of policies against “repeatedly vindicated hoax”. (RFH) for political content. “In order to be included on the RFH list, that requirement must meet eligibility criteria (including tampering, contagion, and severity) and be approved by the content policy leader. “
The policy, to the knowledge of the Guardian has yet to be applied, will lead to Facebook blocking false information spreading about the election without waiting for them to be ripped off every time a new version comes out. A similar policy of Covid-19 hoax is enforced by “strictly downgrading the content, adopting customized information processing and ad disapproval”.
The documents reveal that Facebook only processes certain types of false information without involving a third party. Misinformation aimed at voter intervention or census is eliminated entirely “for the severity of harm to democratic systems”. Manipulated media, also known as “deepfakes”, were removed “because of subtly edited ‘hard to see’ content. And false information “contributes to imminent violence or physical harm” will be deleted because of the confidentiality of imminent physical harm.
The document states that the second policy is not generally applied by subordinate moderators, but a special exception has been made to false information about Covid-19. Similar exceptions have been made to misinformation about polio in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and misinformation about Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Facebook also has a unique policy about the vaccine hoax. “When groups and sites that spread these exposed scams about getting vaccinated twice or more within 90 days, those groups and pages will be demoted in search results, all of their content. will be demoted in the news feed, they will be removed from the search suggestions system and pages may have their access to fundraising tools revoked, ”the document said.
“This policy is enforced by Facebook, not a third party. Therefore, our policy of not applying the politician’s speech to check the facts does NOT apply here. If a politician shares vaccine scams, we will enforce that. “