Over the past several years, whistleblowers have filed detailed disclosures outlining the ways in which Facebook auto-generates contents for extremist groups on its site. Despite whistleblowers’ repeated warnings, Facebook is still auto-generating content for banned extremist groups such as the Proud Boys, according to recent findings by the Tech Transparency Project (TTP).
Facebook has a feature that automatically generates new pages when users add job titles, interests, or locations to their profile which do not already have an official page. For years, whistleblowers have warned that this feature auto-generates pages for extremist groups otherwise banned from the platform. In a recent report, TTP revealed that Facebook had autogenerated dozens of pages for white supremecist groups.
In 2019, an anonymous whistleblower filed a disclosure with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) detailing the ways that Facebook was auto-gererating pages for terrorist groups despite claims that the site could block 99% of terrorist content before it would be spotted by users.
“Despite Facebook’s misleading rhetoric about social responsibility and community building, they are at its core a capitalist endeavor that has no moral values and will do anything to make money, including fostering hate and facilitating crime,” Siri Nelson, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center (NWC) told Yahoo! News. “And as long as they can get away with it and make the money that they’re aiming to make, they’re going to continue to do it.”
The 2019 whistleblower petition is among a handful of disclosures filed with the assistance of NWC claiming that Facebook has been misleading about their handling of extremist and other criminal content when making public comments. While Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act largely shields tech companies from liability for behavior on their sites, NWC argues that as a publicly-traded company, Facebook is beholden to U.S. securities laws and is violating the laws by making misleading statements to the public. According to the whistleblower petitions, Facebook is both profiting from illegal activity on its site and putting its shareholders at risk by failing to fully disclose the amount of illegal activity the site hosts and promotes.
The Alliance to Counter Crime Online (ACCO) assisted NWC in filing the SEC whistleblower complaints. In October 2021, ACCO founder spoke to WNN developing the legal strategy of filing whistleblower complaints with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) about Facebook’s conduct.