Facebook has allowed some conservative news outlets and personalities to repeatedly spread false information without facing any of the penalties that doing so would typically result in, NBC News reported. NBC News received this information from leaked materials, which they reviewed.
According to internal discussions from the last six months, Facebook has relaxed its rules so that conservative pages, including those run by Breitbart, former Fox News personalities Diamond and Silk, the nonprofit media outlet PragerU and the pundit Charlie Kirk, were not penalized for violations of the company’s misinformation policies.
Facebook has fact-checking rules that determine the reach of posts and accounts. This is done by third-party fact-checkers from a non-partisan International Fact Checking Network. These fact-checkers review and rate public, newsworthy Facebook and Instagram posts, including ads, with articles, photos, or video.
NBC News reported that Facebook uses “strikes”. This means that a page can post inaccurate information and receive one strike warning before Facebook takes action. Two strikes within 90 days puts an account into “repeat offender” status, which can lead to a reduction in distribution of the account’s content and a temporary block on advertising on the platform.
The leaked information reviewed by NBC News reportedly showed that employees in the misinformation escalations team deleted strikes during the review process that were issued to some conservative partners for posting misinformation over the past six months. Essentially, they were erasing strikes, reportedly with direct oversight from company leadership.
It appears that in some cases, strikes are removed for conservative accounts that Facebook feels is likely to go public about being penalized for posting misinformation. In other cases, it seems like conservative accounts that have a lot of active ads also have their strikes removed.
Usually, I find it difficult to trust anything that comes from leaked documents. But, in this case, NBC News reported that Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone did not dispute the authenticity of the leaked documents, but claimed the leaked documents did not provide the full context of the situation. To me, that response sounds like some of what was in the leaked documents was accurate.