Facebook ‘Vaccine Hesitancy’ Comment Moderation Policy Exposed by Project Veritas

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  • Source: UncoverDC
  • 09/19/2023

After Project Veritas' James O'Keefe announced he had landed the lead role in an off-broadway outdoor production of 'Oklahoma!,' a teaser on his Telegram said, "Fasten your seatbelt, Mark Zuckerberg. TOMORROW: Multiple whistleblowers inside Facebook set to come forward with leaked internal docs. #ExposeFacebook."

True to his word, Veritas has a new release in the series dubbed #ExposeFacebook Monday evening. It details secret censoring initiatives that target comments expressing vaccine concerns by users on both Facebook and Instagram platforms. “They're trying to control this content before it even makes it onto your page before you even see it. I have to do something," one of the Facebook employees who came forward said. "What would happen if this was scaled larger and scaled to Twitter and the internet as a whole is way worse than anything that could happen... to me. It's about more than me. It's about, really everyone in the world."

The two anonymous whistleblowers, a Data Center Technician and a Data Center Engineer, are exposing the policy that uses a tier system to rank comments based on "how much the statement questions or cautions against the Covid-19 vaccination." The goal of the program, per leaked documents, is to “drastically reduce user exposure to vaccine hesitancy (VH) in comments." As the Technician explains, "Facebook uses classifiers in their algorithms to determine certain content to be what they call 'Vaccine Hesitant' ... and without the user's knowledge, they assign a score to these comments that's called a 'VH score.'"

As the documents show, the Vaccine Hesitancy scoring system uses scoring thresholds with labels for undesirable comments or content such as 'sensational/alarmist,' 'criticizing choice,' or 'explicit vaccine discouragement,' that guide an 'action mapping' moderation protocol which in some cases suggests demotion or 'position change,' and in some cases suggests removal.

The VH score does not take into account whether the comment is factual. In one document, where Facebook describes comments it classifies as 'shocking stories,' it references "potentially or actually true events or facts." Even these "can raise safety concerns" and are therefore candidates for moderation, as they might "undermine or discourage vaccination."

One category of comment that could lead to 'Vaccine Hesitancy,' the Technician says, is 'indirect discouragement.' Over a screenshot of a user comment that says, "Excruciating pain after my second vaccine! Shaking so bad almost to convulsions," the Technician says, "...this would be considered vaccine-hesitant because they don't want people to see someone had a bad effect. They're not saying, 'Don't get the vaccine,' but they're saying, 'Look at all this negative stuff that happened after I got the vaccine.'"

As the Veritas video goes on, O'Keefe comments, "So [it is] facts, but it doesn't matter," to which the Technician responds, "No, because it doesn't match the narrative... the narrative being: Get the vaccine, the vaccine is good for you, everyone should get it."

The documents appear to show that the VH policy is in an experimental beta phase among 1.5% of Facebook and Instagram users worldwide. Still, the Technician says that it could already be rolled out, based not only on the full launch mockups that are included in the documents but on included references to "C19 Vax Safety & Efficacy," "Currently Global," and "66 languages."

The Technician says core terms used by the high-level employees that work on initiatives such as moderating Vaccine Hesitancy Content include 'Barriers to Vaccination' (B2V) and 'Health Integrity Teams.' The Vaccine Hesitancy Comment Demotion paper provided by the insider credits authors named Joo Ho Yeo, Nick Gibian, Hendrick Townley, Amit Bahl, and Matt Gilles, whom he says are all part of Health Integrity Teams.

The Data Center Technician also describes how 'full context' is an ambiguous term used to justify biased moderator actions:

"What's full context? Another ambiguous term. If they saw a study from someone they didn't like, would they say, 'Well, that's not the full context because ABCDEFG.'"

O'Keefe follows, "Ultimately it seems like any facts that escape a particular narrative are omitted, demoted, deboosted, banned, considered dangerous to society,"

The Technician responds, "Yes. Suppressed in any way possible." The Technician goes on to estimate that at least 25% of people at Facebook agree with him.

Veritas' Facebook Insider Whistleblower #2 is a Data Center Facility Engineer, the same one that gave them a tape of CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaking to his team a few months ago. Ironically, Zuckerberg's own words in that video appear as Vaccine Hesitancy, which would violate this newly exposed internal Facebook policy. In it, he says, "I do just want to make sure that I share some caution on this because we just don't know the long-term side effects of basically modifying people's DNA and RNA."

The Engineer whistleblower says the VH policy is "prohibiting people from being able to have an open dialogue about issues that affect their personal security." About Facebook, he says, "They want to build a community where everyone complies, not where people can have open discourse and dialogue... it's interesting that they would... encourage one side, but not allow the other side to speak." He goes on to compare Facebook to an abusive partner in a controlling relationship, "Not allowing their spouse to speak out about the things that are going on in their marriage... limiting their voice. It's very damaging."

O'Keefe asks the Engineer, "What is your message to those who agree with you inside Facebook?" to which he replies, "I would say that you're not alone. There's this view that tries to make you think that you're alone, that you're not the majority. And even people that say that they agree... internally they question things... it's just that... cognitive dissonance sets in, and they resort to what is safe. It's easier to comply with things than it is to come forward and say, 'This is wrong'. But know that you're not alone; if you do come forward and you do speak up that you can live peacefully knowing that you did the right thing no matter what."

PV has had Facebook insider whistleblowers in the past, starting with an anonymous female employee who described how Facebook engineers police political speech. A second anonymous employee leaked an internal memo to Facebook's Human Resources department that showed H-1B applicants being favored over American workers. Then Zach McElroy and Ryan Hartwig came forward to expose censorship by Facebook content moderators, particularly against conservative content. Project Veritas' undercover investigation release #ExposeCNN was featured in UncoverDC articles (one and two) last month, and we covered PV's defamation lawsuits, and the music video founder James Okeefe made to celebrate earlier this month.

The Engineer explains his own decision to come forward on the VH moderation policy: "When it comes time to standing up for a world I want my children to live in...where they can willingly make their own medical decisions between them, their doctor, and those that are closest to them...it came down to the point where I had to make a decision to do what was right."

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