Project Veritas may have just exposed Facebook — again. This time, Project Veritas Founder James O’Keefe alleged that Facebook documents detailed an algorithm test that targeted users concerned about COVID-19 vaccinations.
Project Veritas purportedly received documents detailing an algorithm beta test for “Vaccine Hesitancy Comment Demotion,” leaked by two Facebook insiders. “Even if the facts are true ... your comments will be targeted and demoted,” O’Keefe said on the Fox News Channel's Hannity.
He added that the algorithm test ranked comments into several tiers based on caution against COVID-19 vaccinations. “Tier one is alarmist and critical remarks about COVID and the vaccine, and tier two is something called indirect vaccine discouragement,” O’Keefe explained.
The stated goal of the algorithm was to “[d]rastically reduce user exposure to vaccine hesitancy (VH) in comments,” according to the leaked documents.
O’Keefe’s investigative outlet also reported that tiers one and two applied highly subjective language for identifying content. Tier one covered “suggesting that vaccines are unsafe, ineffective, sacrilegious or irrelevant, in exaggerated, conspiratorial, or sensational terms.” Tier two included:
- “Promoting Vaccine Refusals & Alternatives: Implicitly discouraging vaccination … [and]
- “Shocking Stories: Potentially or actually true events or facts” that depict “severe adverse events in hyperbolic terms” or are “without context,” [emphasis added].
Project Veritas later released more information from the leaked documents claiming Facebook also had a third and fourth tier for ranking “vaccine hesitancy.” Tier three purportedly included “Objections and Skepticism” which covered “religious-based” and “liberty-based” objections. These comments were “filter[ed] from preview,” while tier four included neutral content that received “no action,” Project Veritas reported.
One of O’Keefe’s anonymous sources, an alleged “Data Center Technician” at Facebook, claimed that the scale of suppression would likely vary on a case-by-case basis. The document mentioned reducing the number of likes a “vaccine hesitant comment” could receive.
Project Veritas asked Facebook to comment on the testing. The company reportedly replied: “We proactively announced this policy on our company blog and also updated our help center with this information.” Facebook has openly promised to reduce the distribution of perceived medical “misinformation” on its blog, Newsroom and Help Center. On Hannity, O’Keefe said that, at the time, “[Facebook hadn’t] yet made most of these documents public.” The platform did not respond to MRC Free Speech America’s request for confirmation of O’Keefe’s report and statements.
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