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Ex-Facebook employee makes explosive allegations that tech giant ignored worldwide political manipulation: report



A whistleblower claims that Facebook ignored evidence that fake accounts were being used to undermine elections and political affairs across the globe, with overwhelmed junior-level employees being left to arbitrary police malicious activity, according to BuzzFeed News.

Citing “an explosive note sent by a recently fired Facebook employee”, BuzzFeed News reported on Tuesday that former Facebook computer scientist Sophie Zhang has “concrete examples of heads of government and political parties in Azerbaijan and Honduras using fake accounts or misrepresenting themselves”

; to sway public opinion. ”

The bomb report, entitled “‘I have blood on my hands’: A whistleblower says Facebook ignored global political manipulation”, was written by journalists Craig Silverman, Ryan Mac and Pranav Dixit after they received Zhang’s note.

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“In countries including India, Ukraine, Spain, Brazil, Bolivia and Ecuador, she found evidence of coordinated campaigns of various sizes to strengthen or hinder political candidates or results, although she did not always conclude who was behind them,” she said. the report.

Zhang declined to speak to BuzzFeed News about the play.

“We have built specialized teams working with leading experts to prevent bad actors from abusing our systems, resulting in the removal of more than 100 networks of coordinated unauthentic behavior,” Facebook spokeswoman Liz Bourgeois told BuzzFeed in a statement. . “It is very involved work that these teams perform as their full-time tasks. Working against coordinated unauthentic behavior is our priority, but we also address the issues of spam and false engagement. We examine every topic carefully, including those that Ms. Zhang raises before taking action or going out and making demands publicly 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 she found “several overt attempts by foreign national governments to misuse our platform on a large scale to mislead their own citizenship” and “caused international news on several occasions.”

She claimed that her role on Facebook allowed her to make “decisions that affected national presidents without supervision” and enforced action against so many “prominent” politicians around the world that she has lost count.

In her post, Zhang said she did not want it to be published for fear of disrupting Facebook’s efforts to prevent problems surrounding the upcoming US presidential election in 2020 and out of concern for her own safety. BuzzFeed News publishes parts of her note 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 now have blood on my hands,” Zhang reportedly wrote.

“The memo is a judgmental statement of Facebook’s failures. It is the story of Facebook abdicating responsibility for malicious activities on its platform that could affect the political fate of nations outside the United States or Western Europe. It’s also the story of a junior employee who has extraordinary moderation powers that affected millions of people without any real institutional support, and the personal pain that followed, “added BuzzFeed reporters before mentioning some of the” biggest revelations “in Zhang’s note.

Zhang’s list contains requirements that:

  • Facebook leaders took nine months to act on a coordinated campaign with fake assets to increase President Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras
  • The ruling party in Azerbaijan exploited thousands of counterfeit assets … to “harass the opposition en masse.”
  • Facebook removed “10.5 million false reactions and fans from high-profile politicians in Brazil and the US in the 2018 election
  • A NATO researcher informed Facebook that he “achieved Russian unauthentic activity on a high-profile US political figure that we did not capture.”

Zhang’s note allegedly refers to “unauthentic activity” as “a Facebook expression of commitment from bot accounts and coordinated manual accounts.”

BuzzFeed also noted that Zhang’s note contained allegations of unauthorized activity in both Bolivia and Ecuador, but was not prioritized by Facebook, the Spanish Ministry of Health’s Facebook used “coordinated manipulation” during the coronavirus pandemic, and she 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 she rejected a $ 64,000 resignation package from Facebook to avoid signing a confidentiality agreement, according to BuzzFeed.

“There was so much abusive behavior around the world that it was left to my personal judgment as to which cases I should investigate further, file assignments and escalate to prioritize afterwards,” Zhang wrote in the note, according to BuzzFeed.

“Without any supervision, I was left in a situation where I gained confidence in the enormous influence of my free time … A leader of strategic response pondered to myself that most of the world outside the West was in fact the Wild West. with myself as the part-time dictator – he meant the statement as a compliment, but it illustrated the enormous pressure on me, “she continued.

The long report describes many more of Zhang’s claims ranging from “a large fake account network used to amplify and manipulate information about COVID-19” to Facebook, which allegedly ignores unauthentic activity on occasion.

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She also allegedly criticized Facebook for spending too much time on spam and was told that resources were limited when she urged Facebook to crack down on “malicious activity related to elections” and other similar issues.

“I was told that Facebook would no longer need my services if I refused,” Zhang reportedly wrote.

She was fired earlier this month and shared the note on her last day, according to BuzzFeed.


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