Project Veritas and a former Facebook insider explain some of the technical details behind how Facebook is “dethrottling” people like Steven Crowder and Mike Cernovich:
According to the insider, the documents revealed a routine suppression of the distribution of conservative Facebook pages. The technical action she repeatedly saw, and for which Project Veritas was provided documentation, was labeled ActionDeboostLiveDistribution. Said the insider, “I would see [this term] appear on several different conservative pages. I first noticed it with an account that I can’t remember, but I remember once I started looking at it, I also saw it on Mike Cernovich’s page, saw it on Steven Crowder’s page, as well as the Daily Caller’s page.”
Conservative commentator Steven Crowder’s page had been suppressed before in April 2016, and Crowder told Project Veritas they settled a dispute related to the issue with Facebook out of court. Asked for comment on this story, Steven Crowder’s attorney Bill Richmond said:
“Louder With Crowder is investigating the allegations of concealed stream throttling by Facebook. The accusations are deeply troubling given the previously settled dispute with Facebook uncovered by Gizmodo.com, which found the show was targeted by Facebook workers with secret audience restrictions on political grounds alongside other prominent conservative voices.”
A screenshot of an action log on Mike Cernovich’s Facebook page provided by the insider, shows the tag. The insider believes that the “deboost” code suppresses the distribution of livestream videos on Facebook. Project Veritas spoke to a current Facebook employee off the record who said that the code could limit a video’s visibility in news feeds, remove sharing features, and disable interactive notifications.
When approached for comment, author and filmmaker Mike Cernovich said the troubling issue is that Facebook could just “make stuff up” about people through these systems. “Facebook, or an individual at Facebook, has the unilateral power to create false allegations against someone he or she doesn’t like. The person accused not only can’t do anything about the allegation, they don’t even have an idea the allegation was made,” said Cernovich.
The insider says that unlike many actions that Facebook content moderators can take against pages, the “deboost” action, which appears to occur algorithmically, does not notify the page’s owner. “[W]ith these ‘deboost live stream’ things, there was no warning sent to the user… These were actions that were being taken without the users knowing.”
Upon further review, the insider says she did not notice the tag on any left-wing pages. “I looked at the Young Turks’ page, I looked at Colin Kaepernick’s page, none of them had received the same deboost comment.”
The “deboost” tag appears after the word “Sigma,” which Project Veritas has learned is an artificial intelligence system used to block potential suicide and self-harm posts. Both Mike Cernovich and Steven Crowder cannot recall having ever produced any videos on Facebook that promote suicide or self-harm. Mike Cernovich told Project Veritas that in fact he has long spoken out against suicide and self-harm, and provided tweets of his and a blog post as evidence.
It’s time to start building class action lawsuits against Facebook and other social media companies engaged in these false, defamatory, and materially damaging practices. And let me assure you that their terms of service don’t permit these practices, nor are their legal teams anything to be feared. Remember, despite all their financial resources, these are organizations that are seriously committed to both diversity and identity politics, with all the obvious consequences that follow from those practices.
Conservatives are going to have to stop settling out of court in ways that prevent them from commenting publicly on their experiences or divulging what they’ve learned, especially because, as Crowder has recently learned, these companies will not live up to their settlement agreements.