One whistleblower claims Facebook ignored evidence that fake accounts were used to undermine elections and political affairs around the world, with overwhelmed junior-level employees left to arbitrarily monitor malicious activity, according to BuzzFeed News.
Citing “an explosive memo sent by a recently fired Facebook employee,” BuzzFeed News reported Tuesday that the now former Facebook data scientist Sophie Zhang has “concrete examples of government leaders and political parties in Azerbaijan and Honduras using fake accounts. or represent themselves influencing public opinion “.
The bombshell report, titled “I have blood on my hands”
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“In countries such as India, Ukraine, Spain, Brazil, Bolivia and Ecuador, he found evidence of coordinated campaigns of various sizes to stimulate or hinder candidates or political achievements, although he did not always conclude who was behind it, “the report states.
Zhang declined to speak to BuzzFeed News for the piece.
“We have created specialized teams, working with leading experts, to prevent attackers from abusing our systems, resulting in the removal of more than 100 networks for coordinated inauthentic behavior,” Facebook spokeswoman Liz Bourgeois told BuzzFeed. involved the work done by these teams as a full-time mandate. Working against coordinated inauthentic behavior is our priority, but we are also addressing the problems of spam and fake engagement. We carefully investigate any issues, including those raised by Ms. Zhang, before taking action or making public statements as a company. “
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for further comment from Fox News.
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Zhang reportedly wrote that he found “multiple blatant attempts by foreign national governments to abuse our platform on a large scale to mislead their citizens” and “caused international news on multiple occasions.”
She said her role at Facebook allowed her to make “unsupervised decisions that influenced national presidents” and to take action against so many “prominent” politicians around the world that she lost count.
“In his post, Zhang said he did not want it to go public for fear of disrupting Facebook’s efforts to prevent problems around the upcoming US presidential election in 2020 and concerns about its own safety. BuzzFeed News is publishing portions of it. memos that are clearly in the public interest, “BuzzFeed wrote.
BuzzFeed did not publish the entire memo because it contained personal information, according to the report.
“I know I have blood on my hands now,” Zhang would write.
“The memo is an overwhelming tale of Facebook’s failures. It is the story of Facebook abdicating responsibility for malicious activity on its platform that could affect the political fate of nations outside the United States or Western Europe. It is also the story of a junior employee exercising extraordinary powers of restraint who affected millions with no real institutional support and the personal torment that followed, “BuzzFeed reporters added before listing some of the” biggest revelations “in the memo. by Zhang.
Zhang’s list includes statements that:
- Facebook Executives Took Nine Months To Act On A Coordinated Campaign Using Fake Resources To Strengthen Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez
- The ruling party in Azerbaijan used thousands of fake assets … to “harass the opposition en masse”.
- Facebook removed “10.5 million fake reactions and fans from high-profile politicians in Brazil and the United States in the 2018 election
- A NATO researcher informed Facebook that it “obtained a Russian inauthentic activity on a high-profile US political figure that we did not catch.”
Zhang’s memo reportedly refers to “inauthentic activity” as “a Facebook term for engagement from coordinated bot accounts and manual accounts.”
BuzzFeed also noted that Zhang’s memo included claims that the inauthentic activity was discovered in both Bolivia and Ecuador, but was not a priority by Facebook, the Spanish Ministry of Health’s Facebook used “coordinated manipulation” during the coronavirus pandemic and helped stop “a politically sophisticated network of more than a thousand actors working to influence” local elections in India.
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Zhang said he turned down a $ 64,000 layoff package from Facebook to avoid signing a nondisclosure agreement, according to BuzzFeed.
“There was so much violation behavior around the world that it was left to my personal assessment as to which cases to investigate further, file activities, and then step up for prioritization,” Zhang wrote in the memo, according to BuzzFeed.
“Without any supervision, I have been left in a situation where I have been entrusted with immense influence in my spare time … A Strategic Response manager has reflected to myself that most of the world outside of The West was actually the Wild West with myself as the part-time dictator – he meant the statement as a compliment, but it illustrated the immense pressure on me, ”he continued.
The lengthy report details many of Zhang’s other claims, ranging from “a large-scale fake account network used to amplify and manipulate COVID-19 information” to Facebook sometimes allegedly ignoring inauthentic activity.
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She also reportedly criticized Facebook for spending too much time focusing on spam and was told resources were limited when urging Facebook to crack down on “election-related malicious activity” and other similar issues.
“I was told that Facebook would no longer need my services if I refused,” Zhang wrote.
She was fired earlier this month and shared the memo on her final day, according to BuzzFeed.