Behind the Bastards

There’s a reason the History Channel has produced hundreds of documentaries about Hitler but only a few about Dwight D. Eisenhower. Bad guys (and gals) are eternally fascinating. Behind the Bastards dives in past the Cliffs Notes of the worst humans in history and exposes the bizarre realities of their lives. Listeners will learn about the young adult novels that helped Hitler form his monstrous ideology, the founder of Blackwater’s insane quest to build his own Air Force, the bizarre lives of the sons and daughters of dictators and Saddam Hussein’s side career as a trashy romance novelist.

Part One: Let's Look at the Facebook Papers

Part One: Let's Look at the Facebook Papers

Tue, 16 Nov 2021 11:00

Robert and Jamie Loftus sit down to discuss the massive, damning 'Facebook leaks'.

Learn more about your ad-choices at

See for privacy information.

Listen to Episode

Copyright © 2022 iHeartPodcasts

Read Episode Transcript

Hello, I'm Erica Kelly from the podcast Southern Fried True crime, and if you want to go from podcast fan to podcast host, do what I did and check out spreaker from iheart. I was working in accounting and hating it. Then after just 18 months of podcasting with Spreaker, I was able to quit my day job. Follow your podcasting dreams, let's break or handle the hosting, creation, distribution, and monetization of your podcast. Go to That's If you could completely remove one phrase from your vocabulary, which phrase would you choose? I don't know. Correct answer. No, I meant I don't know which phrase, and the best way to banish I don't know from your life is by cramming your brain full of stuff you should know. Join your host, Josh and Chuck on the Super Popular podcast packed with fascinating discussions on science, history, pop culture and more episodes that ask, was the lost city of Atlantis Real? I don't know. Is birth order important? I don't know. How does pizza work? Well, I do know. Bit about that see? You can know even more, because stuff you should know has over 1500 immensely interesting episodes for your brain to feast on. So what do you say? I don't want to miss the stuff you should know. Podcast you're learning already. Listen to stuff you should know on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. Hey there, it's Ebony Monet, your Co host for the San Diego Zoo's Amazing Wildlife podcast, in this special episode. You're speaking with Doctor Jane Goodall about the fascinating journey that led to her social discoveries on chimpanzees. For four, oh, months, the chimps ran away from me. I mean, they take one look at this peculiar white ape and disappear into the vegetation. Listen to amazing wildlife on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. America. I don't know why I opened the show this way. I really. I really don't know why you did either. I don't know why I did that. You're Jamie. Jamie Loftus. What? Jamie. Hi. Hi. Is this a podcast? Yeah. It's like, after all these years, it's a podcast. Podcast. Podcast. Sometimes I get on the phone to podcast. And I think that I'm just talking to my friends, but then I remember that every relationship in my life is dominated by podcasting, and I don't even know how to interact with people outside of the filter of a zoom call anymore. That is incredibly accurate to how I feel. Really? I really. That's actually the saddest thing I've ever heard in my entire life. Thank you, Jamie. How are you doing? Said it to me like I was gonna agree. And I. I was. I was terrible. And then I was great. And now I'm fine. Excellent. That sounds like a solid trajectory. That's a good little hero's journey. That's like the that's like the the Green Knight, more or less. I didn't see that movie. It looked long. It is. It is. But it's quite a film. I would not see a movie over an hour and 40 minutes anymore. That's my heart out. You know what I don't recommend for short movies? As Herbert W Reanimator or the Reanimator. Sorry. It was before the Herbert W One, which was a Halloween movie I loved and then rewatched. It's Halloween and it was really great up until one one really horrifying scene that I had kind of forgotten reanimated before. It's got some amazing stuff in it if you're a horror movie fan. And then there is an incredibly uncomfortable sexual assault scene now that is like, really bad. Like really bad. Yeah, thank you. I think we're opening this episode in a really strong, powerful, thank you focused way. I want to recommend a horror movie to you. Ohh I it's Midsummer. I'm not going to listen. It's not. It's not. I only watch Midsummer to get all ***** for Will Poulter, and then I turned it off after he dies. But that's a reasonable thing for a person to say. Absolutely. The person that I want to have sex with dies. I turn off the movie because it's boring after that. The very healthy way to go through life. Thank you so much. OK, so the movie which I will show you at some point is called pin. OK. You heard of pin? No. So pin. Pin is a it's about a pediatrician who has like a life-size medical dummy sitting in his office. This doesn't seem like it's going a good place. The pediatrician, the only way. It's like a psychological thriller. It's not really that gory, but the pediatrician. The way that he can communicate with emotional honesty with his children is by making a little ventriloquist ventriloquist voice for the dummy. And so the ventriloquist dummy gives the kids sex Ed, the ventriloquist dummy does all this stuff. And then. And then one of the kids thinks that the ventriloquist dummy, whose name is pin is real and then pin starts to, like, control his thoughts and actions. And then there's a scene where a nurse has sex with pin, but he's just a dummy. OK. It's the greatest movie I've ever seen. I'm not doing it justice that that that sounds like quite a film, Jamie. That sounds like quite a film. The pen, Robert, and I don't. Yeah. I mean, that definitely does sound like a scene that would make me have very specific physical reaction. And the best part about that scene is that the nurse never comes back and it's never addressed in the movie again. It's that now that now you're speaking my language, the language of shoddy filmmaking, something horrible happens and then you just canonically have to forget in order to watch the rest of the movie. No, I'm on board with that. And you know Jamie, now that you mentioned. Quitting a movie as soon as the person you want to have sex with dies? That may explain why I've never made it past the halfway point in the First Star Wars movie. Really? Wow. Yeah. Once Alec Guinness is out of the picture. Why even keep watching, you know? See? Well, yeah, you're like, well, the hottest person is gone. I don't want not a single ******** face in the rest of that film. No. Bunch of uggos, Jamie. So you know who else is a bunch of uggos OHS? So transition? We did it. It's so perfect. The people who run Facebook. Yeah. It is. It is. We're talking today about the Facebook papers, which is we'll talk about this a little bit more in detail, but an enormous cache of internal Facebook documents that just got leaked, revealing a tremendous amount of ****** ** ****. And I think we have to start with the uncomfortable situation that is everybody talking **** about how Mark Zuckerberg looks like an Android. I feel so mixed about it, because on one hand, yes, the thing, the thing that's bad about him is not his appearance, but also. Yes, he does. He does hit the uncanny valley. There's something missing in his eyes. Look, there's something and that and that's Ivy League Boy syndrome, right? Like, that's not just him, that's anyone who who graduates sunscreen photo haunts us all. Ohh yes, I truly. I mean, even though we did just refer to the entire cast of Star Wars one as a bunch of algos, I hideous do feel that it like the worst. The the most lazy thing you could do is is go after. How someone looks when there are so many other evil facets of him. I will agree that there is no light in his eyes. There's certainly no light in his eyes. There's nothing like the pupils are very. There's not that little thing that's supposed to be there is not there. Yeah, he could watch a kitten get murdered and it would just be a dial tone inside his soul. He looks like a character from The Polar Express. Yeah, he looks he looks like Herbert W from the movie Reanimator, but less charismatic to check that. It looks like pin. Look up pin. I'm not gonna look up pin. So kinda look up at this point in the history of the show. Jamie, we've recorded a lot of podcast episodes about Facebook. You have been there for what, three of them? Yeah, I forget. I forget entirely how many episodes we did on Facebook. We did three episodes on like the creation of Facebook and it's kind of a brief list of its crimes. I think we did at least one follow up, maybe 2 follow-ups, and then we've mentioned Facebook *******. ******* in episodes of like, it could happen. Here, in worst year ever, Facebook is personal to me for a couple of reasons. #1 number of people who helped raise me have slowly lost their grip on reality and the face of viral propaganda spread via via Facebook's engagement algorithm. And that's kind of bummed me out. And #2, my friends and I all lost our jobs in the company we built for a decade due to the fact that Facebook told criminal lies about video metrics that they have currently been fined $40 million for, which also frustrated actually over it. It sounds like you're really over it and you've. No, I I we've talked about this. I don't know if it was on Micronet, but yeah, I also lost my job to that. Yeah. I mean, we worked at the same place, at least one of them like, yeah, I mean they all the whole industry went up in flames. It's. So since I'm still, I'm still mad about it. Yeah, I am mad about it. Even though like things have been going fine, great for me, career wise, it's just like kind of ********. It's yeah, it's kind of frustrating. There used to be. Did you catch that? Roberts career is going great. Yeah, it is doing great, Jamie. In my head I went, you're welcome. I'm a human rocket ship. I'm the Iggy Pop of talking about Facebook. You're welcome. It's kind of nice that we all just had to pivot to like, OK, you can still talk about what you're passionate about. But just no one has to look at you anymore. And I'm like, that's actually not the worst thing that's ever ideal. And in my case, it was like, you don't have to write articles, you just have to talk on a microphone, which involves writing an article. But I don't know, they're easier. You can like, you can really have a series of bullet points and be like, well, you just don't have to edit anymore, right? That that's what it that's what we that's what we got rid of in this pivot to podcasting editors. We're all. We're all green Walding a little bit. Yeah, it all worked out, but you know, but also Q Anon stealing Q Anon. The fact that there will soon be death squads roving many of our neighbors, like, there's there's downsides to it too, you know for sure, but then also meta, you know? Yeah, meta. Thank God. You're getting better. We'll be talking about meta at some point, but yeah, like, it's it's Facebook's bad. I don't like Facebook, but in one of those episodes, and I forget which of those episodes, I said something along the lines of at this point, there's no moral case for remaining employed by Facebook. And earlier this year, a Facebook employee named Francis Hogan came to the same conclusion on her own, rather than jump out with her stock options or whatever perk sheet accrued and then get another tech industry job, which is what a lot of people do. I know people who have have done this when they were like. Facebook's kind of ****** **. I'm just gonna go hop to another country company and make even more money. Instead of doing that, Francis spent weeks painstakingly photographing internal Facebook has its own internal communications network that is patterned off of Facebook, but it's for like the corporate, the the employees to use and suppressing well, I mean it's it's like it's like Slack, but probably more all consuming and soul destroying. Yeah, yeah, but she there's like nothing. Worse. I mean, personality wise, I I can't stand someone who's, like, really killing it on slack. That's one of my least favorite traits in a person is if they're they're really giving it 110% on slack. I'm like just, I'm, I'm asleep. I hate it. No, I mean, Sophie barely hears from me when we need to work, let alone when we don't need to work. Just text me when I'm late. I'm 100% not true. Ah, good stuff. So rather than, you know, take the money and run. So she gets in this like internal communications app that Facebook has and because they have protections about like because like, they know that this is a risk. People leaking internal documents is a risk. They have like security things set up and to get past them, she just photographs a bunch of internal documents on her phone. A huge, like, she could say a lot of ****. And then she didn't leaks those files to several news agencies and are good friends at the SEC. Uh, this week we're going to go through some of those documents and all of the damning **** they reveal. The 1st and perhaps most important revelation is this. Many Facebook employees understand that their company is a force for evil. Some of them have vowed to fix it from the inside. Others are convinced the evil is outweighed by some nebulous good. But at the core of it, they know that what they're a part of is problematic, and a lot of them hate themselves for it. You can really see that coming across in some of these conversations. Evidence of the. Yeah, it's good stuff. Don't you love? Yeah. Yeah. When human beings compromise the, the very nature of their soul in the in seeking profit. Yeah. And then and then, you know, you watch the, you watch the light leave their eyes and then you're supposed to feel bad for them. Evidence of the struggle over the soul of Facebook can be found in the reactions of employees to the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement after the murder of George Floyd in 2020 by a cop. That June, as protests reached their height, a Facebook employee posted a message to the company racial Justice Chat Board stating get Breitbart out of news tab. He was enraged at the fact that the far right publisher was pushing this information about violence at protests and included screen grabs of Breitbart articles with titles like Minneapolis Mayhem Massive. Including buildings in flames, bonfires! And BLM protesters pummel police cars. I wonder how much more attention they paid the police cars than the man who was choked to death by a cop anyway. Good stuff, Breitbart, good journalism. Nailing it. This employee claimed that these articles were part of a concerted effort by Breitbart and other right wing media sites to quote paint black Americans and Black LED movements in a negative way. He argued that none of those hyperpartisan sites deserve to be highlighted by the Facebook News tab. So Facebook's News tab consists of two tiers of of content providers, right? It's just like the tab that tells you what's going on in the world. And all of the people whose stories get in there have been vetted to some extent by Facebook. So there's a first tier of big publishers like the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, like the the Big Dogs, and they get paid. Facebook gives them money to be a part of the news tab. And then there is a second tier of news sites who are not paid, but did have to get vetted as a reliable news source for Facebook to put them on their news tab and Breitbart. Is in that latter tier, which means Facebook isn't giving them money directly, but is institutionally pumping a **** load of of like traffic towards their propaganda and throwing a lot of their propaganda out into people's news feeds. In their public facing statements, Facebook claims to only include sites on their news tab who do quality news reporting. Sites that repeatedly share disinformation it claims are banned. This functions on a strike system. In July of 2020, President Trump tweeted a Breitbart video claiming you don't need a mask to protect against. COVID-19 the video also spread misinformation about hydroxychloroquine. Despite the fact that this video clearly violated Facebook's stated standards, it was able to reach millions of people through the news tab before Facebook took it down from the Wall Street Journal. OK, according to Facebook's fact checking rules, pages can be punished if they acquire too many strikes, meaning they published content deemed false by third party fact checkers. It requires 2 strikes within 90 days to be deemed a repeat offender, which can result in a user being suspended from posting content. More strikes can lead to reductions in distribution. In advertising revenue in a town hall, Mr Zuckerberg said Breitbart wasn't punished for the video because that was its only infraction in a 90 day. According to internal chats described to describe it. Yeah, now that seems wrong, right? Knowing Breitbart that they would have one strike in 90 days? I mean, and was the reason that that video reached so many people before it was taken down, it was that just like a delay in fact checking, does that mean that a certain number of people need to like, no, I mean, Trump tweeted it and it spread, and Facebook didn't want to take it down until it had. It had already kind of made them some money, I think. I also think it's just like they don't put a lot of work into checking on this stuff. They don't. They don't want to ****. We're talking about all this. But like, they also just don't want to, like, **** any conservatives off. Like, there's a lot of things going into why this stuff is not. In fact, invited to any degree now, you expressed surprise at the fact that that Breitbart only had one strike in 90 days. Let's talk about why. Yeah, so thanks to Francis Haggen's leaked documents, we now know that Breitbart was one of the new sites Facebook considered managed partners. These sites are part of a program whereby the social network pairs handlers who work at Facebook with the website. These handlers give Facebook a back channel to sites that spread disinformation, which allows them to have content. Moved her. Altered without giving the content maker a strike. So in other words, they put out the content. It gets viewed millions of times. Facebook One employee likes messages and editor and says like, hey, you need to change this now. It gets changed after it spread around and they avoid a strike and thus stay on the news tab. Ohh, that's a good way to do it. Back channel? Yeah, that's so dark. OK. I mean, I guess if you're looking for a way to keep misinformation up, that is a logical way to go about it. Yeah, yeah, yeah. They do a perfect job. So actually, you're saying that Breitbart is accurate, right? Yes, that's perfectly accurate. That is what we always say about Breitbart and Andrew Breitbart, a man who did not do cocaine to until he died. Who's who's got light in his eyes and a fire? Not anymore he doesn't. So actual strikes were automatically escalated for review by senior Facebook executives who could decide to overturn the punishment and remove a strike through these methods. Facebook strike system for spreading disinformation actually proved to be nothing at all. Any sufficiently large right wing website was given numerous opportunities to avoid strikes without being delisted. This was a problem that went further than Breitbart, as the Wall Street Journal reports. In an internal memo, the engineer said that he based. This assessment, in part on a queue of three dozen escalations that he had stumbled onto, the vast majority of which were on behalf of conservative content producers. A summary of the engineers findings was posted to an internal message Board 1 Casey cited regarding Pro Trump influencers diamond and silk. Third party fact checkers rated as false. A post on their page that said it was like **** stars. Wait, Diamond and silk? Oh, do you not know about Diamond and silk? Oh, they are. Are they banned? They're not great. No, no, but they're bad. They they're not. Not nice people. Not good people. OK. So they got yeah it's a fact checkers rated false post that diamond and silk made stating how the hell is allocating $25 million in order to give a raise to House members that don't give a damn about Americans going to help stimulate America's economy. When fact checkers rated that post false, a Facebook staffer involved in the partner program argued that there should be no punishment, noting the publisher has not hesitated going public about their concerns around alleged anti conservative bias on Facebook. So this is a pretty minor case, but it shows what's going on there. They post something that's not accurate. The raise is not something that's like going through and fact checkers flag. It is inaccurate, which should mean it gets removed. But then someone at Facebook is like if we remove it, they're going to yell about us removing their post and it's going to be a pain in the *** for us. So just like **** it, yeah this is I feel like this is always the the route that Facebook does is is just like this big gigantic bureaucratic style operation that people do ****** things so that they're not inconvenienced. Yelled at by someone else like it's all so insidious. It also so boring at the same time. Yeah, it's it's the consequences that aren't boring. And to some extent this is true of a lot of the worst things in history. There were an awful lot of of men in totalitarian societies who signed effectively or literally the death warrants of their fellow man because like, well, otherwise it's going to be a real pain in the *** for me. My day at the office is going to be terrible. I don't wanna take this to the boss. I don't wanna escalate this yet. Just kill them. Yeah, yeah. I mean, it is so I like the the most evil stuff is done in a very slow and boring way. I feel like it's just because if you can get people to, you know, fall asleep, you can get away with ******* murder. Like, literally. Yep, it's good stuff. Putting these papers, Robert thank yeah, they're very fun. So Diamond and silk were able to lobby the third party fact checker into changing the rating on their article down from the to partly false. And with the help of the managed partner escalation process, all of their strikes were removed. The chat conversations that the general reviewed showed that inside the company Facebook employees repeatedly demanded that higher ups explained the allegations. Quote we are apparently providing hate speech policy consulting and consequence mitigation services to select partners wrote. Some employee leadership is scared of being accused of bias, wrote another. So that seems bad. That doesn't seem good now. That seems like the root of a lot of problems we've been having as a society. Them like, well, conservatives are loud when they're angry, so let's just let them lie and try to get people killed. The diamond and silk was doing that in that case, but that that's a thing, right wing media now when you're saying I don't know what the picture when you say diamond and silk. So at first I was picturing **** stars. Then I was picturing a hair metal band, looked more like gospel singers. I was picturing 2 Springer spaniels most recently. And I think I'll stay there. Yeah. No, I wouldn't. I wouldn't. You should you should look him up. OK. Yeah, they're they're they're they're two musicians who like, have posed with Trump and have like a I think they're on Tik T.O.K. They're just like right wing media influencers, and they're they're they're not they're not great people. In a farewell memo to colleagues in late 2021, member of Facebook's Integrity team and the Integrity team, their job is to reduce harmful behavior on the platform. Complain that Facebook's tolerance for Breitbart stopped them from effectively fighting hate speech. Quote we make special exceptions to our written policies for them, and we even explicitly endorse them by including the mistrusted partners in our core products. Hmm. Yeah. OK. It's it's bad and you can see like there's this constant with the Facebook papers revealed. There's this constant seesaw and and aggressive between the integrity team, the people whose job is to reduce the harm the site does, and everyone else whose only real job is to increase engagement on the site, right. That is how you get your bonus. That is how you get kudos from the boss is keeping people on the site for longer. So most of Facebook, that is their job and a small number of people their job is to try and make sure the site doesn't contribute to an ethnic cleansing. And the ethnic cleansing, people like the people trying to stop that. The best way to do that is always going to be to do things that cut down on engagement with the site. And so they nearly always lose the fights they have with everybody else. Jesus Christ. Yeah, it's great. OK, OK, yeah, that is the scariest extension of that logic. Yep. One thing we know, thanks to the Facebook papers, is that the social network launched a study in 2019 to determine what level of trust its users had in different media organizations. Out of dozens of websites across the US and UK, Breitbart was dead last. Facebook themselves rated it as low quality, which, again, based on the company's own claims about how they decide who to include in the news tab, would disqualify Breitbart. And guess what? Breitbart is still a trusted Facebook partner. Ohh hey, what's this unrelated news clip from A2 November 2021 Washington Post article doing in my script quote? Ohh Breitbart is the most influential producer of climate change denial posts on Facebook, according to a report released Tuesday that suggests a small number of publishers play an outsized role in creating content that undermines climate science. Good **** right? That's right, still #1 after all these years, what didn't good? Isn't that a good thing? Isn't that a good thing? That they haven't said too inaccurate things? In the last 90 days, which I find to be never really believable, never, Facebook's terror at the thought of offending conservatives by cracking down on hate speech and rampant disinformation started I I don't know if it started, but it really it really hit the ground running in 2016, during the only election that was even worse than this last election. In May of that year, Gizmodo wrote an article reporting that Facebook's trending topics list suppressed conservative views. A handful of ex employees made claims that seem to back these allegations up. Now, reporting later in the year by NPR, it made it clear that this was ********. Quote, NPR called up half a dozen technology experts, including day's data scientists, who have special access to Facebook's internal metrics. The consensus there is no statistical evidence to support the argument that Facebook does not give conservative views a fair shake. But truth never matters when you're arguing with conservatives. They needed a reason to threaten Facebook with regulation, etcetera. When Trump and when Trump won later that year, the social network decides these threats may have teeth. And so we're going to spend the next four years. Allowing them to say whatever the **** they want, no matter how racist, no matter how conspiratorial, no matter how many shootings it may help to inspire, no matter. No matter how many shootings maybe live streamed on the platform, like the Christchurch shooting, we're going to let it All in all in because yeah, yeah, yeah, money. Because otherwise they'll get yelled at and maybe regulated. There is a good angry I don't want the Conservatives to get angry. The funny thing is, there's no stopping them from getting angry, right? You know how this works. I know how this works. They're going to be angry and they're going to claim bias no matter what, which is what they do. And so as Facebook gives them a free pass and their content is consistently the most influential stuff on the entire site, allegations of anti right wing bias continue to spread even though again, like 8 to 9 out of the 10 top shared posts on any given day are from right wing media. But you know what's not? From right Wing Media, Jamie. What? All these products and services that you're not at all be sure you can't be at all. Not at all. No, we we have a different. We have a different brand of brain pills than the ones Alex Jones sells. Ohh, you and ours have less than half the lead brain pills. Ohh, less than half the lead. That is the. That is a promise, Jamie. However much lead you think a pill should have, it's less than that because we care. I'll take your sick little centrist brain pill. See if I care. I could start watching MSNBC at any moment. OK, take brain cooked. Get brain cooked. Here's some other products. Mint Mobile offers premium wireless starting at just 15 bucks a month. And now for the plot twist. Nope, there isn't one. Mint Mobile just has premium wireless from 15 bucks a month. There's no trapping you into a two year contract. You're opening the bill to find all these nuts fees. There's no luring you in with free subscriptions or streaming services that you'll forget to cancel and then be charged full price for none of that. For anyone who hates their phone Bill, Mint Mobile offers premium wireless for just $15.00 a month. Mint Mobile will give you the best rate whether you're buying one or for a family. And it meant. Families start at 2 lines. All plans come with unlimited talk and text, plus high speed data delivered on the nation's largest 5G network. You can use your own phone with any mint mobile plan and keep your same phone number along with all your existing contacts. Just switch to Mint mobile and get premium wireless service starting at 15 bucks a month. Get premium wireless service from just $15.00 a month and no one expected plot twists at That's Seriously, you'll make your wallet very happy at Mint Mobile. Com slash behind now a word from our sponsor better help. If you're having trouble stuck in your own head, focusing on problems dealing with depression, or just you know can't seem to get yourself out of a rut, you may want to try therapy, and better help makes it very easy to get therapy that works with your lifestyle and your schedule. A therapist can help you become a better problem solver, which can make it easier to accomplish your goals, no matter how big or small they happen to be. So if you're thinking of giving therapy a try, better help is a great. Option it's convenient, accessible, affordable, and it is entirely online. You can get matched with a therapist after filling out a brief survey, and if the therapist that you get matched with doesn't wind up working out, you can switch therapists at any time. When you want to be a better problem solver, therapy can get you there. Visit behind today to get 10% off your first month. That's better My name is Erica Kelly and I am the host and creator of Southern Freight true crime. There are so many people that just have no idea about some injustices in the world and if you can give a voice to them, you can create change to be able to do it within podcasting. It's just such a gift. I believe it was 18 months after I got on with speaker that I was making enough that I could quit my day job. It was incredible. I always felt like an ambassador for speaker, but that's because I'm passionate about podcasting. It's really easy to use. I always tell people I am so not tech. Took me 5 minutes to get comfortable with speaker, and when I find a new friend that has an incredible show, I want them to make money. I want them to be able to do what I did. Follow your podcasting dreams. Let's break your handle the hosting, creation, distribution, and monetization of your podcast. Go to That's Get paid to talk about the things you love with spreaker from iheart. Alright, so we're back. OK, so we're back. So back in 2018, are things gonna get happy? Are things gonna get happy? Are things get funny? Not really. OK, just checking. Yeah. No, that's not really. I mean, Mark Zuckerberg will like, I don't know, fall down a manhole someday. Maybe we're lucky. That would be funny. That would be funny. Be great. In 2018, a Facebook engineer claimed on an internal message board that the company was intolerant of his. Beliefs. The reality is almost certainly that his coworkers found him to be an obnoxious bigot. I say this because he left the company shortly thereafter and hit the grifting circuit, showing up on Tucker Carlson's show. He just, he does the thing that, like, you remember 2018? Nineteen. A bunch of these guys were like leaving big tech companies and like going on the Alex Jones show. There was one guy who left Google and claimed, like brought a bunch of leaks, but they weren't anything because it was never anything about people being like, it's kinda seems like he sucks. It's very funny. Those press tours were yeah, that was truly, that feels like it was ten years ago, but yeah, it was. It was funny because, like, I think the first one of these dudes did alright money wise, but after that, like, the spigot dried up and so they were just like detonating their careers in the tech industry for nothing. Going to work for Gab afterwards. Yeah, it's really fun to watch. After the 2016 election, and I apologize for the rate that we're jumping around here on the timeline, but it's unavoidable. Facebook became the subject of bad PR from the left as well. The Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, and the outrage in the wake of Trump's election meant that Facebook was being pressured to do something about bigotry and disinformation spreading on their platform. At the same time, the Republicans are in charge now, so they can't actually do anything, otherwise they'll be attacked for being biased and maybe regulated. So they tested a couple of different changes. One was a tool called. Sparing sharing, which sought to reduce the reach of hyper posters. Hyper posters are exactly what they sound like. These are users that had been shown to mostly share false and hateful information, and so reducing their virality was seen as potentially helpful. This seems like a sensible change, right? Oh, these people are are sharing it an incredible rate, and it's all violent trash. Let's reduce the number of people who see this stuff. Shadow banks, that's like, that's a that's a real Band-Aid. Just be like, OK, we're gonna have them. They can still share stuff, but just less hateful stuff. Yeah, and it's not less garbage. It's not even a shadow ban because the shadow band would imply that, like, you are actually reducing like artificially the spread. You're no longer artificially inflating their reach, like, because their stuff gets great engagement, right, because it ****** people off even though it's untrue. And the algorithm, the algorithm default is, oh, this ****** people off. That's limits that everybody see what this ******* saying and they're just being like, well, let's not do that for these specific ******** right? That's all they're doing. It's not a ban, it's a we're going to stop inflating these people's reach to the same extent that we were. Seems like a sensible change. You know who disagreed with that? Jamie Loftus. Who? Robert Evans. Joel Kaplan, former deputy chief of staff to George W Bush and Facebook head of public policy. Famous right wing ******** Joel Kaplan, who is huge at Facebook and is a major driving force behind don't **** *** conservatives that's that's the guy that he is. That's his whole job. How are we supposed to work together if we're ******* off the Conservatives? It actually it's a rising tide right around. Yeah. So Kaplan's like most of these hyper posters are conservatives. This is this is you know unfair and he convinces Zuckerberg to weaken, have his engineers weaken the tool so that they do. Kind of. Reduce the influence that these hyper posters have, but not by as much as they wanted to, and it doesn't really seem to have a much of an impact. As we will talk about later, this is still the way Facebook works, so however, to whatever extent they did reduce the harm, it was not by much. Another attempt is also like way too cool of word to describe what that is, which is spreaders of hate speech. Why give them a cool name like that? Yeah, why give them a cool name like that? Although I don't know, that might have. That sounds like something we might have said as like an insult to people when I was young and on the Internet. You're a hyper poster. I don't know, dude. You're like hyper posted right now. You need to chill the **** out. I'm picturing someone sitting at their filthy keyboard in a power Ranger suit. That's a high. I am. I am imagining a filthy and a filthy power Ranger suit. Suit. Jamie. Oh, it's really dirty and it doesn't fit. It's so either way too big or way too small. Yeah, they they they have soiled themselves. And then on more than one occasion, because they can't stop posting Robert, because they're posting too much, it was it was not an accident. It was a choice they made in order to finish an argument I'm going to make in an oil painting of that exact image. Jamie, I swear to you, I will put that up in my living room. I will put it on my roof. Like this esteemed Chapel? Really? Absolutely. Don't underestimate how much free time I have. Robert. I would never do that. You work for the Internet. So another attempted tool to make Facebook better was called informed engagement. This was supposed to reduce the reach of posts that Facebook determined were more likely to be shared by people who had not read them. This rule was instituted and over time. Facebook noticed a significant decline in disinformation and toxic content. They commissioned a study, which is where the problem started, from the Wall Street Journal. The study, dubbed a political ideology analysis, suggested the company had been suppressing the traffic of major far right publishers, even though that wasn't its intent. According to the documents, very conservative sites that found would benefit the most if the tools were removed, with Breitbart's traffic increasing an estimated 20%. Washington Times is 18%, Western Journal 16%. An epic times by 11%, according to the documents the study was designed. That's why you never conduct a study, Robert. Yeah yeah, they fired basically. Hey, if you don't let people, if you reduce the amount by which people share like by which posts shared by people who have not read the article. If you if you make those spread less bright parts traffic drops 20%. God, I still I still think that that those like the tools that have developed over time to be like Are you sure? Don't. We're going to read the article are so goofy. I I do like when Twitter, I feel like they're like, I just picture like a little shaking person thing. Are you Are you sure you don't want to read that article? Yeah. Before you retweet it, what do you think I was like, no, I felt so bad because there's been times when I've like retweeted, like shared my own articles that I've written and because like, I I wrote them, I didn't necessarily click the link before sharing. I just, like, woke up and I, like shared it and it's like. Are you sure you don't want to read this? And I I just Click to share because it's like 9 or 10 in the morning. And I'm, I haven't had my coffee yet, but I feel bad even though it's like, well, I wrote the ************. Like, I know what's in there. Usually by the time I share something, I have already read it, but I do. I think that that function, I think it has a good purpose and it like, pings something in your brain that is, you know. Yeah, I think it is a good thing. Yeah. It's just funny. It's this little Oliver Twist that appears in front of you. It's like, Are you sure you didn't read the article before you share with you following. Like, like, no, I'm good. I can read. It's all good. Would you like to maybe read the article before suggesting that an ethnic group be slaughtered for their crimes? Alright, right. And that's where he really comes in handy is in those moments. Yeah, that guy shouldn't be British, so. So the the the study, like the reason they conduct this study is in the hopes that it will like allow them to say that it's not biased. But then it turns out that like, I wouldn't call it biased, but this change, which is unequivocally a good thing, impacts conservative sites which are lower quality and more often shared by people who haven't read the articles but are incensed by a ****** aggressive headline like the Breitbart ones we just read. Those get shared a lot and they don't read the article, and that's great for Breitbart. But they decided, like, oh **** actually, this study, the results of this study were absolutely going to be called out for bias, one of the researchers wrote in an internal memo. We could face significant backlash for having experimented with distribution at the expense of conservative publishers. So the company dumps this plan, they they kill. It is bad for Breitbart, good for the world. If it's bad for Breitbart, if it's bad for the Bart, we gotta, we gotta can the plan, bad for the part. You have always said that Facebook. Yeah, I was saying that at meetings. You are Cheryl. Sandberg, actually. Not a lot of people know that. Yeah, I, you know, listen, I've all of a side hustle couple $100 off of making fun of Cheryl's sheriff. So the good news is that Facebook didn't just make Craven decisions when threatened with the possibility of being called out for bias, they were also Craven whenever a feature promised to improve the safety of their network at the cost of absolutely any profitability. In 2019, Facebook researchers opened a study into the influence of the like button, which is one of the most basic and central features of the entire platform. Unfortunately, as we'll discuss in more detail later, likes are one of the most toxic things about Facebook. Researchers found that removing the like. Button I'll, along with removing emoji reactions from posts on Instagram, reduced quote stress and anxiety felt by the youngest users on the platform, who while reported significant anxiety due to the feature. But Facebook also found that hiding the like button reduced the rate at which users interacted with posts and clicked on ads. So now this is more of yeah yeah, now this is, I will say, more of a mixed bag than the last thing, because removing the like didn't like it. It made one group of young people feel better. But not other groups of young people like, it didn't reduce, it reduced like kids social anxiety. It didn't have as much of an impact on teens really. So it's not as clear cut as the last one. But still, a protective effect had been found among the most vulnerable people on Instagram in particular. But they don't, they don't do anything about it because, you know, that's so frustrating for that money, genuinely very, very valuable, interesting information where. I don't know. I mean, I feel like it probably. Didn't affect teenagers because that by that point it's like, I mean, you don't want to say like too late, but by that point you're so hardwired to be like, well, I can tell what is important or like what is worth discussing based on likes and once that that's just such a sticky. I mean, I still feel that way, even though it's like, you can objectively know it's not true. But once you've been kind of pilled in that way, it's it's very hard to undo. Yeah, it's some. I don't know what it is, Jamie. It's not great. Upsetting. That's that's yeah, you killed it. Yeah, it's not great. So as time went on, research made it increasingly clear that core features of Facebook products were fundamentally harmful. From BuzzFeed, quote Time and again, they determined that people misused key features, or that those features amplified toxic content, among other effects. In August, in an August 2019 internal memo, several researchers said it was Facebook's core product mechanics. Meaning the basics of how the product functioned that had let misinformation and hate speech flourish on the site. The mechanics of our platform are not neutral, they concluded. So there's Facebook employees recognize internally we are making decisions that are allowing hatred and other and just unhealthy, toxic content to spread. And we're not. The bias is not in US fighting it. Our bias is in refusing to fight it, like we are not being neutral because we're letting this spread. The people making the site work recognize this. They talk about it to each other. It it makes it. They feel guilt over it. They talk about it. You know, we know this. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, we've discussed that before of just, like, the existential stress of working at Facebook. Not the most sympathetic problem in the world, but not at all. Yeah, a lot of them are making bank, but yeah, clear paper trail, though, of deep existential guilt and distress now. It's it's pretty cool. Yeah, it's pretty cool. Pretty cool. So rather than expanding their tests on the impact of removing the like button on a broader scale, Mark Zuckerberg and other executives agreed to allow testing only on a much more limited scale. Not to reduce harm, but to quote, build a positive press narrative around Instagram. So not so not actually help human beings, but we. But but to give us something to brag about, right? For him to be like, I'm such a I'm we're so nice, we're so cool. We're gonna have ******* rad. We are. I'm the guy who made a site to stalk girl dated slang. He's gonna be like, yeah, this is going to be we gotta get some lit press around Instagram. Know what I mean? Yeah, in three years, someone's gonna tell him the word poggers and then he's gonna say it like 30 times in a week. Do all of his imaginary alien friends on meta he's like, yeah, that's pog, bro. **** Mark Zuckerberg. I hate that screaming into a void. In September of 2020, Facebook rolled out a study of the share button. This came in the wake of a summer of unprecedented political violence, much of its stoked via viral Facebook posts and Facebook groups. The shift at Kenosha started on Facebook in a lot of ways. If you were tracking it that night, a hell of a lot of that **** got started on Facebook. A lot of the like, let's get him. Push it together and protect businesses. You know, it's good stuff. Company researchers identified reshare aggregation units, which were automatically generated groups of posts that you're so they they identify. One of the problems leading to all of this is what they called reshare aggregation units, and these were automatically generated groups of posts that were sent to you that were posted to your friends liked. Right? And they recognize this is how a lot of this bad **** is spreading. So right, right. That's creating a feedback loop on purpose? Yes, in part because. Losers are much more likely to share posts that have already been liked by other people they know, even if those posts are hateful, bigoted, bullying, or contain accurate information. So if somebody gets the same post in two different ways, if they just, like, see a bigoted article pop up on their on their their Facebook feed, but they're not being informed that other people they know have liked it or shared it, they're less likely to share it than if like, well, my buddy shared it, so maybe now I have permission, right? And you can think about how this happens on like, a societal level, how this has contributed to everything we're dealing with right now. So I feel like everyone knows someone who has probably was very, very influenced by that exact function. That's yeah, God, that's awful. So company researchers in September of 2020 are like, these researcher aggregation is the fact that we don't have to do it this way, right? We can only show people that, that articles that they're friends comment on at the very least, as opposed to just like or just share without much commentary like they have a number of options here that could at the very least reduce. Harmful content, because whenever you like, I think the number is like three times as likely to share content that's presented to them in this way. So in May of that year, while, you know, so this is actually months before Facebook researchers find this out, myself and a journalist named Jason Wilson published what I still think is the first proper forensic investigation into the boogaloo movement. It noted how the spread of the movement in its crucial early days was enabled entirely by Facebook's group recommendation algorithm, which was often spread to people. By these reshare aggregation units, you see. Oh my buddy joined this group where everybody sharing these like Hawaiian shirt photos and pictures of guns. Maybe I'll hop in there and you know, the the cycle goes on from there. When you've joined one group, it sends you advice to like, hey, check out this other group, check out this other group. And it starts with like, uh, we're, we're sharing memes about like Hawaiian shirts and and you know, the boogaloo and then five or six groups down the line, you're making serious plans to assassinate federal agents or kidnap a governor, you know, like, yeah. I mean I I that piece you know I remember where I was when I read it cause the the how steep the escalation is and how quickly it like it's not I guess not completely surprising but at the time I was like oh that that is a very short timeline from yeah So what I don't like it. It's not good. And in fairness, there are actually some Facebook like, it kind of becomes accepted, the stuff that Jason and I were writing about in May by a lot of Facebook researchers around September of that year. But there were people within Facebook who actually tried to blow the lid on this earlier. In fact, significantly earlier, in mid 2019, an internal researcher created an experimental Facebook account, which is something that like certain researchers would do from time to time to see what the algorithm is feeding people this experimental account. The account was a fake conservative mom, and they they they made this count. They wanted to see what the recommendation algorithm would feed this account, and I'm going to read from BuzzFeed again here. The internal research, titled Carol's journey to Q Anon, detailed how the Facebook account for an imaginary woman named Carol Smith had followed pages for Fox News and Sinclair Broadcasting. Within days, Facebook had recommended pages and groups related to Q Anon, the conspiracy theory that falsely claimed Mr Trump was head facing down a shadowy cabal of democratic pedophiles. By the end of three weeks, Carol Smith's Facebook feed had devolved. Further, it became a constant flow of misleading, polarizing and low quality content, the researcher wrote. Carol? Yeah. How did the. Oh yeah, so, so some, some, some jerk was like, let's call it Carol. Like they they Carol stereotypes. Statistically not unlikely that it could. It could have been a Carol, that is. I mean that that's interesting that we also all know and Carol we do know. We do all know Carol. Yeah, unfortunately. So they're they're they're the Dunkin' Donuts. Drive through. I I walk among them. Yeah, we they they they live among us. They are datable. Drives through. And you walk among them. That's so funny. You eat hot dogs next to them people. Yeah, we're in. Like, I think that hot dog eaters are are maybe more politically astute bunch, but the Dunkin' Donuts line is just absolute unmitigated chaos. There could be the politics of the Dunkin' Donuts line are all over the ******* place. They are. They are anarchists. On the line you have you have the scariest people you've ever met in the line. You have Ben Affleck in the line looking like his entire family just died in a bus crash. But Affleck in the line and you can see his little dragon Backpiece. Oh my God, it's a phoenix. Jamie, come on. Come on. Sorry. That was disrespectful. That was disrespectful. And you're right. And you're right. Thank you. Thank you. So this this study with this fake account that immediately gets radicalized. This study, we it comes out in the Facebook papers, right this year, but it was done in 2019 and when this year like information of this dropped and journalists start writing about it, they do what journalists do, which is you, you you put together your article and then you go for comment, right. And so the comment that Facebook made about this experiment that this researcher did in 2019 was, well, this was a study of 1 hypothetical user. It is a perfect example of research the company does to improve our systems and helped inform our decision to remove Q Anon. From the platform. That did not happen until January of this year. Oh, they didn't do **** for two years after this. They only did **** because people stormed the ******* capital waving Q Anon banners. You ************* sounds like them. And it's like they're like, oh, let's wait until things get so desperately bad that the company will be, you know, severely impacted if we don't do something huge. Amount of the of the radicalization. Q Anon gets supercharged by the lockdowns, right? Because suddenly all these people. Like, a lot of them are in financial distress. They're locked and they're ******* houses. They're online all the *** **** time. And they knew they could have dealt with this problem and reduced massively the number of people who got fed this poison during the lockdown. If they'd done a *** **** thing in 2019. They had the option. They did not. Yeah. Yeah. OK, well, so no surprises here. That researcher said nothing bad happened, right? I mean, it did not name it, did. Nothing happened. Well, all of 2020. And actually, and was pretty heavily tied to this. In August of 2020, that researcher left the company. She wrote an exit note where she accused the company Facebook of quote knowingly exposing users to harm. We've known for over a year now that our recommendation systems can very quickly lead users down a path to conspiracy theories and groups. In the meantime, the fringe group Slash set of beliefs has has grown to national prominence, with Q Anon congressional candidates and Q Anon hashtags and groups trending on the mainstream. Out of fears, out of fears over potential public and policy stakeholder responses, we are knowingly exposing users to risks of integrity harms. During the time that we've hesitated, I've seen folks from my hometown go further and further down the rabbit hole it has been painful to observe. Wow. OK, OK. I didn't mean it. It it is. I mean no. Yeah, arguments there. It is very painful to observe that happen to people who are not. And that's yeah, that's a Facebook. Employee who's not gonna get any **** from me. She identified the problem. She did good research to try to make clear what the problem was. And when she realized that her company was never going to take action on this because it would reduce their profits, she ******* leaves. And she she does everything she can to let people know how unacceptable the situation is within the company, you know? I mean, that is good. That's what that is the minimum. That is the minimum, right? Yeah. I mean, it is a little silly. To be like, and I just recently realized that I don't think Facebook is ethical. You're like, you're like, shut up. No way. Don't know when this person started. But like, yeah, there they they she got there. And she's clearly horrified by what she like, realized the company was doing. Like, again, we've all been where she is where you just see these people you grew up with lose their ******* minds. Yeah. And it's bad. It's really bad. And you're like, oh, and I'm. I'm. And I work here. Nucleus at the of the problem. Interesting. Yeah, I mean, that's why I had to quit working at Purdue Pharmaceuticals. Yeah, I know. I do miss the freed a lot. Yeah, I know, I know, I know. I know. All those. It was a great salesman. Ohh, you were so good. You know who plays a Purdue Pharmaceuticals salesman or no, maybe it's not Will Poulter. Yeah, OK, you know who didn't? Is Alec Guinness. Because he never loved. He never lived to see opiates become what they are today. Tragic. Tragic. He never lived to taste the sweet taste of Tramadol. Allotted and we don't talk about that enough. We don't talk about that enough. What a shame. No. And heartbreaking say I will. Yeah. What if Alec Guinness had access to high quality pharmaceutical grade painkillers? An essay. I think it would have been sweet. I'm pitching it. I'm pitching it. Ohk. OK, someone who's better at movies than I could have made a train spotting joke there because he you and McGregor in the heroin movie. Then he played on. I don't know, there's some joke there, but I didn't come up with it. OK, someone. Yeah, someone figured that out in the Reddit. And then don't tell us about it. Do not tell us. Because I've never seen Trainspotting. I'm just aware that Ewan McGregor is on heroin. Yeah. No, I haven't seen it. But, like, you know what it's about. Yeah, I know what it's about. I also get so stressed out when I anytime. It's not often, but anytime I've had to say Evan Macgregor's name, I say it's so weird. It's the worst thing in the world saying you would. Macgregor's name is the most frightening experience a human can have in 2021. I can't. I can't make my mouth make that shape. It's embarrassing. I think what he has to live with. Thankfully, he's gorgeous. That must make it easier. Yeah. I mean, being sexy has to help. It has to help. Which is the 20. Yeah. You know who does know how to pronounce Ewan Macgregor's name and never feels any anxiety over it because they're friends. They hang out on the weekend. Ohh nice. Who who's at the products and services that support this podcast are all good buddies with Ewan McGregor. McGregor hangs out with the Highway Patrol. Good to know. Mint Mobile offers premium wireless starting at just 15 bucks a month. And now for the plot twist. Nope, there isn't one. Mint Mobile just has premium wireless from 15 bucks a month. There's no trapping you into a two year contract. You're opening the bill to find all these nuts fees. There's no luring you in with free subscriptions or streaming services that you'll forget to cancel and then be charged full price for. None of that. For anyone who hates their phone Bill, Mint mobile. Offers premium wireless for just $15.00 a month. Mint Mobile will give you the best rate whether you're buying one or for a family, and it meant family start at 2 lines. All plans come with unlimited talk and text, plus high speed data delivered on the nation's largest 5G network. You can use your own phone with any mint mobile plan and keep your same phone number along with all your existing contacts. Just switch to Mint mobile and get premium wireless service starting at 15 bucks a month. Get premium wireless service from just $15.00 a month and no one expected plot twists at slash. seriously, you'll make your wallet very happy at Now a word from our sponsor better help. If you're having trouble stuck in your own head, focusing on problems dealing with depression, or just, you know can't seem to get yourself out of a rut, you may want to try therapy, and better help makes it very easy to get therapy that works with your lifestyle and your schedule. A therapist can help you become a better problem solver, which can make it easier to accomplish. Goals, no matter how big or small they happen to be O. If you're thinking of giving therapy a try, better help is a great option. It's convenient, accessible, affordable, and it is entirely online. You can get matched with a therapist after filling out a brief survey, and if the therapist that you get matched with doesn't wind up working out, you can switch therapists at any time. When you want to be a better problem solver, therapy can get you there. Visit today to get 10% off your first month. That's better. My name is Erica Kelly and I am the host and creator of Southern Freight true crime. There are so many people that just have no idea about some injustices in the world and if you can give a voice to them, you can create change. To be able to do it within podcasting is just such a gift. I believe it was 18 months after I got on with speaker that I was making enough. That I could quit my day job. It was incredible. I always feel like an ambassador for speaker, but that's because I'm passionate about podcasting. It's really easy to use. I always tell people I am so not tech. Took me 5 minutes to get comfortable with spreaker and when I find a new friend that has an incredible show, I want them to make money. I want them to be able to do what I did. Follow your podcasting dreams. Let's break your handle the hosting, creation, distribution, and monetization of your podcast. Go to That's get paid to talk about the things you love with spreaker. From iheart. Ohh, we are back. As the 2020 election grew nearer, disinformation continued to proliferate on Facebook and the political temperature in the United States rose ever higher. Facebook employees grew concerned about the wide variety of worst case scenarios that might result if something went wrong with the election. They put together a series of emergency break glass measures. These would allow them to automatically slow or stop the formation of new Facebook groups if the election was contested. This was never stated, but you get the feeling they were looking at Kenosha and how Facebook groups had led to spontaneous and deadly militia groups to form up due to viral news stories. My interpretation is that they were terrified of the same sort of phenomenon that it would lead to Facebook like fueling a civil war. Like I think that we're literally worried that like something will go wrong, people will form militias on Facebook and there will be a gunfight that a **** load of people die in that escalates to something worse and everyone will say it started on Facebook because that happened in Kenosha. Like this is not a thing. It happened with the boogaloo stuff after, yeah. It happened several times last year. That's a fair anxiety. We've seen it happen. Yeah, OK. It was never a mass exchange of gunfire, thank ******* God. But they were. They thought they saw that possibility. This is the thing I was worried about the entirety of 2020. And we got really close to it several times. I was there for a few of them. It sucked. So they're worried about this and they start coming. They try to figure out like bright, like emergency measures they can take to basically like, shut all that **** down. Like stop people from joining and making new Facebook groups if they have to, right? If, like, it becomes obvious that something needs to be done. And yeah, so they they uh, yeah. In September, Mark Zuckerberg wrote on an internal company post that his company had, quote, an obligation or had had, quote, a responsibility to protect our democracy. He bragged about a voter registration campaign the social network had funded and claimed they'd taken vigorous steps to eliminate voter misinformation and block political ads, all with the stated goal of reducing the chances of violence and unrest. The election came, and it went all right from Facebook's perspective, the whole situation. These two fluid and confusing. And those early days after the election, you know, we're getting the counts in everything down to the ******* wire. It was all too messy for there to be much in the way of violent on the ground action to occur while like that was getting sorted out because people just didn't know where is it going to land. So they think, oh, we dodged a bullet. Everything was fine because they're dumb. Oh baby. Yeah. The reality, of course, is that misinformation about election integrity spread immediately like wildfire on November 5th. One Facebook. Employee warned colleagues that disinformation was filling the comment section of news posts about the election. The most incendiary and dangerous comments were being amplified by Facebook's algorithm to appear as the top comment on popular threads. On November 9th a Facebook data scientist reported in an internal study that one out of every 50 views on Facebook in the United States and fully 10% of all views of political information on the site was content claiming the election had been stolen. 10% of Facebook's political posts are the election was stolen. Yeah, one out of 50 views on Facebook is someone saying the election stolen. This should out of control. You know, probably everyone engaging to agree. Wow. OK. I honestly, honestly, I would have guessed that it would have been higher. But yeah. But one in 10 is still, there's a lot going on on Facebook. Yeah. The researcher noted there was also a fringe incitement to violence. And I would quibble over the word fringe because I don't think it was very fringe. But otherwise, the data is interesting. You know, there's a lot of. People is not the fridge. He's saying the incitement to violence was a fringe of the post claiming the election had been stolen. I disagree with his interpretation of that based on my own amount of time that I spent looking through these same posts. But whatever. Maybe we were looking at different posts. You know, there's a lot going on on Facebook in those days. Facebook did not. Yeah, Facebook did not blow the whistle or sound the alarm or do anything but start canceling its emergency procedures. They were like, we get it the critical periods over, everything's going to be fine. And dandy, baby. They thought the danger of post election violence was over, and most of all, they thought that if they took action to stop the reach of far right propaganda users, then conservatives would complain. As we now know, the most consequential species of disinformation after November 2nd would be the stop the steel movement. The idea behind the campaign had its origins in the 2016 election as essentially a fundraising grift from Roger Stone. Ali Alexander, who is a ******** adapted it in the wake of the 2020 election and it wound up being a major inspiration. For the January 6th Capital Riot, as we now know from a secret internal report, Facebook was aware of the stop the steel movement from the beginning quote from Facebook the first stop the steel group emerged on election night. It was flagged for escalation because it contained high levels of hate and violence and incitement. Via an I in the comments, the group was disabled and an investigation was kicked off. Looking for early signs of coordination and harm across the new stopped the steel groups that were quickly sprouting up to replace it with our early signals. It was unclear that coordination was taking place. Or that there was enough harm to constitute designating the term. It wasn't until later that it became clear just how much of a focal point the catch phrase would be, and that they would serve as a rallying point around which a movement of violent election delegitimization could coalesce. Hmm. From the earliest groups we saw high levels of hate, via and I, and delegitimization combined with meteoric growth rates, almost all of the fastest growing Facebook groups were stopped the steel during their peak growth because we were looking at each entity individually rather than as a cohesive movement we were only able to take. On individual groups and pages, once they exceeded a violation threshold, we were not able to act on simple objects like posts and comments because they individually tended not to violate, even if they were surrounded by hate, violence and misinformation after the capital insurrection. Yeah, that is such garbage. I mean, it's like I and I know that you have examined far more of these posts than I have in depth, but it's just the the fast and looseness that people interpret like just it's like freeform jazz, the way people interpret Facebook community rules. Because it I've, I've, I feel like in groups like that and in groups like less inflammatory than that, there is just constant breaking of the Facebook community rules. It's just, uh, it's yeah, yeah, yeah. They're not really moderated at all. Yeah. So this is interesting to me for a few reasons. For one, it lays out what I suspect is the case. These researchers and Facebook employees needed to believe and be able to argue in order to not hate themselves. The idea that, like, we just didn't recognize. It was coordinated. We thought it was. Well, it was. It was all kind of grassroots and happening like organically, and so it was much more complicated for us to try to deal with. I think they need to believe this. I'm going to explain why it's not a good excuse. Starting in December 2019 and going until May 2020, the boogaloo movement expanded rapidly in Facebook groups incitements to violence semi regularly got groups nuked and members adapted new terms in order to avoid getting deep platformed. It became gradually obvious that a number of these groups were cohesive and connected, and this was revealed throughout the year. A string of terrorist attacks by boogaloo types in multiple states. When these attacks began, Facebook engaged in a much more cohesive and effective campaign to ban boogaloo groups. The boogaloo movement and stop the steel are of course not one to one analogues, but the fact that this occurred earlier in the same year resulting in deaths and widespread violence shows that fate spoke ******* knew the stakes. They could have recognized what was going on with the stop the steel movement earlier and they could have recognized that it was much likely more cohesive than it may have seemed. A decision was made. Not to do this, not to act on what they had learned earlier that year. And I would argue based on everything else we know that the reason why this decision was made was primarily political. Like, they didn't want to **** *** conservatives, you know? Yeah. I mean, and that's that is like a criminal level of negligence, I would argue. My that's leaving a loaded gun with a 6 year old, you know? Yeah. And being like, well, I was pretty sure it had a safety. Yeah. I just didn't like they like, oh God, there's just. I miss when they were radicalized by FarmVille. Yeah, I know. White supremacy? Yeah, yeah, those were the days. So, my critiques aside, this internal report does provide us with a lot of really useful information. Info that would have been very helpful to experts seeking to stop the spread of violent extremism online if they had had it back when Facebook found it out. So it's rad that Facebook absolutely never intended to release any of this. Isn't that cool in that sweet cool that they were never going to put any of this out. There's like, really? Useful data. I have a quote in here. I don't think I'll read it because it's a bunch of numbers and it's only really interesting to nerds about this, but about like, how many of the people who get in to stop the steel groups come in through like invites and like, how many people are actually responsible for the invites? What the average number of invites per person is like. It's really interesting stuff. I'll have the links for it in there. You can read these internal Facebook report posts, but like, you know what? I'll read the quote. Stop. The steel was able to grow rapidly through coordinated group invites. 67% of stop the steel joints came through invites. Moreover, these invites were dominated by a handful of Super Inviters 30% of invites came from just three-point, 3% of Inviters inviters also tended to be connected to one another through interactions. They comment on, tag and share one another's content out of 6450 high engagers 4000 and 2563% of them were directly connected to one another, meaning they interacted with one another's content or messaged one another. When using the full information corridor, 77% connected to one another. This suggests that the bulk of the stop the steel application. What's happening as part of a cohesive movement? This would be a great data to have in January of 2020, right? Really? That would have been really good to know. Yeah, that is. Ohh, speaking as a guy who does this professionally, that would have been great to have. But this is all just internal, like, OK, so we know, so we know this is like this. Let us never speak of it again. Problem is, yeah, yeah, now we'll deny it to anyone who alleges this while we have this excellent data that we will not hand out because we're. Pieces of ****. Yeah, yeah, OK. On January 6th, Facebook employees were as horrified as anyone else by what happened in the capital. This horror was tweaked up several degrees by the undeniable fact that their work for the social network had helped to enable. It was much evolved that it was their fault. Bad? Yeah, yeah, in the same way that, like when I finish having a gasoline and match fight in my neighbor's house and then an inexplicable tragedy ensues. I can't help but feel somewhat responsible, you know? Wait, hold on. I'm feeling this vague. Melon. I know it's not my fault. Don't worry. I know it's not my fault, but I feel that way. Yeah. No, you just lit a match. I mean, I think we can hold the match accountable. The match was responsible. The match, the neighbor for having a house. A lot of people are to blame here. That's on them and that's on them. Exactly. So they're all horrified. Everybody's horrified. Much of the riot itself was broadcast in a series of Facebook live streams as Mike Pence's Secret Service detail scrambled to extricate him from the Capitol Grounds Facebook employees tried to enact. To break the glass emergency measures originally conceived for the immediate post election. This was too little, too late. That evening, Mark Zuckerberg posted a message on Facebook's internal messaging system with the title employee, FYI. He claimed to be horrified about what had happened and reiterated his company's commitment to democracy. Chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer, one of the most internally respected members of Facebook's leadership, also made a post asking employees to hang in there while the company decided on its next steps. One employee responded. The theme from the trolls song like Jeffrey Katzenberg fired the entire hang in there, folks. Hang in there, folks hanging in there. Here's an amazing song by misses Anna Kendrick. That's right, that's what he did. And he tells them this and an employee responds. We have been hanging in there for years. We must demand more action from our leaders. At this point, faith alone is not sufficient. Another message was more pointed. All due respect, but haven't we had enough time to figure out how to manage discourse without enabling violence? We've been fueling this fire for a long time, and we shouldn't be surprised. It's now out of control. The Atlantic? Yeah. I mean, fair. The Atlantic has done a poster with the little kitten hanging from the branch that says we have been hanging in there for years. Yeah. Or how about we have been fueling this fire for a long time and shouldn't be surprised now it's now out of control. We could do that with the this is fine meme. The guy sitting at the fire. This is on us. You know we shouldn't be. This isn't surprising. We had ample warning of the fire but himself there. That said, hang in there, kiddos. Yeah. So I think the Atlantic has done some of the best reporting I found on this particular moment when Mark and and Shrek forget up and like, say don't worry. Like, hang in there. We love democracy and, like. People go off on them January 6th like people were like a little more open about the frustration they felt about all this stuff. Then and then they stopped being that open. It's frustrating and everybody's treating these people with kid gloves, whatever. The Atlantic has done really good reporting on this on this exact moment, which seems to have been kind of a dam breaking situation for unrest within the company, one employee wrote. What are we going to do differently to make the future better? If the answer is nothing, then we're just that apocryphal Einstein. Vote on the definition of insanity. Another added to Mike Schrepfer. Please understand, I think you are a great person and genuinely one of the good people in leadership that keeps me here. But we cannot deal with fundamentally bad faith actors by using good faith solutions. I think that's a good way to put it. Yeah, yeah. I would also like democratic leadership to know that. But, well, let's not set the bar too high. They're they're not gonna figure that out. Now, in the wake of January 6th, an awful lot of people, me included, exhaustively documented Facebook's contribution to the attack and. Criticized the company for enabling political violence on a grand scale. The company responded the way they always respond with lies. Mark Zuckerberg told Congress in March that Facebook quote did our part to secure the integrity of our election. Sheryl Sandberg, boss Girl and chief operating officer for the company, claimed in mid January that the capital yeah claimed in mid January that the capital riot was quote largely organized on platforms that don't have our abilities to stop hate. I mean, Robert, first of all, as you know, as a big Sandberg advocate, you can't talk about her that way because she told women that they should negotiate their own salary, you ******* loser. Did you ever think about negotiating your own salary, you ******* dweeb? $17.00 and I love that. I I do love that too. That's my favorite thing that she did. So Sandberg is a lot smarter than Mark Zuckerberg, and her statement was the very clever sort of not technically a lie that spreads. A lot more disinformation than just a normal lie would ever manage. Because it's technically true that more actual organizing for the right was done in places like parlor as well as more private messaging apps. But that's also a lie because the organizing of the actual movement that spawned the riot, the stop, the steel ship, that was almost entirely Facebook. So like, yeah, people didn't like go and open Facebook groups and do like, most of the people didn't like, go in there, be like, OK, we're doing a caravan, although some people did, and we have quotes of that. A lot of that happened in other apps, but like. The overall organize those other apps if they had not first been on Facebook. Is that why you're no, no? Yeah, that's what I'm saying. Like, that's why it's smarter than her, because Mark Zuckerberg is just lying to Congress because they didn't. Sheryl Sandberg is being very intelligent and also kind of backhandedly complimenting Facebook in its hour of most blatant failure within the United States. At least not most blatant failure. That would be the ethnic cleansing. You mean. Check the date that you're. You know, check the data recorded this we may have had an ethnic cleansing enabled by Facebook by the time this episode drops as of this recording. True? Yeah, as of this recording of the non ethnic cleansings and also the things that have been done in the United States that were worse that Facebook did. This tops the list, does not top the list of their overall crimes, which include the deaths of 10s of thousands. Yep. Good stuff, good stuff. Good stuff. I I just, I felt like the need to celebrate. I do. OHP, those were nice. Those are nice. My crush used to send me those in high school, and now that website is responsible for the deaths of 10s of thousands of people. Yeah, it's it's good stuff. So what I find so utterly fascinating about the leaks we have of Facebook employees responding to their bosses on the evening of January 6th is that it makes it irrevocably, undeniably clear that Zuckerberg and Sandberg and every other Facebook mouthpiece. Side when they claimed the company had no responsibility for the violence on January 6th, the people who worked for Facebook on the day it happened immediately blamed their own company for the carnage. Quote. Really do appreciate this response and I can imagine the stress leadership is under, but this feels like the only Ave where we opt to compare ourselves to other companies rather than taking our own lead. If our head sheet shock, if our headsets shocked someone would we say well it's still much better than PlayStation VR and it's unprecedented technology I wish I felt. Otherwise. But it's simply not enough to say we're adapting because we should have adapted already long ago. The atrophy occurs when people know how to circumvent our policies and we're too reactive to stay ahead. There were dozens of stopped the steel groups active until recently, and I doubt they minced words about their intents intentions again, a hugely appreciate your response and the dialogue, but I'm simply exhausted by the weight here. We're at Facebook, not some naive startup with the unprecedented resources we have. We should do better. Yeah, but I've I've that's like part of the Zuckerberg ethos. To continue to behave like he's move fast and break with a good idea. Yeah yeah, move fast and break things. Or well, or more iconically, what? What is his the quote that's on my shirt? Ohh be unethical. Would be an ethical and not be breaking the law and that's how I live my life haha. What a ***** ** ****. The key. And he's still like, yeah, I mean, and I I feel like that is whatever. I I'm sure that does say so much about him because like, a good person can say you can break the law and not be unethical. And that's how I live my life. And that's fine because the laws generally trash Zuckerberg specifically saying I get to be a ***** ** **** as long as I don't technically break the law. And because I have money, I'm never technically breaking the law. Is that not sweet? And then don't forget, ha ha. You can be an ethical and still be legal. That's the way I live my life, haha. I'll never forget. I'll never forget, never forget I'm getting that tattooed right above my come back with a warrant tramp stamp. Yeah and yeah. And then and I would also recommend getting it on on the other side right next to your phoenix that I know you're you're planning out. Oh yeah, full back. It's actually going to be a a perfect replica of of the tattoo that Ben Affleck has. And then over my chest, a perfect photo. Realistic tattoo of Ben Affleck picking up Dunkin' Donuts and looking like he's just watched his dog shoot itself. No, I don't. I, like appreciate his devotion to Dunkin' Donuts. I don't know how he. I mean, I guess he's just tired because I'm like, I don't look that way at Doug and every picture I've seen of myself at Dunkin' Donuts, I look so happy to be there. How could you not be thrilled? I don't know. I don't know. I mean, I'd say it's Boston, but you're from Boston, right? I'm from Boston and I'm so happy to be there. Yeah, people keep saying no. He doesn't look miserable. He just looks like he's from Boston. And I think he just is miserable there. Looks miserable to that. There's some. Well, I don't go to cities like other girls, Robert, I don't know if you know that I'm not like other girls, so I'm. I'm happy at the Dunkin' Donuts. OK, OK, fair enough. So yeah, I don't know. At the beginning I talked about the fact that I have said I think working for Facebook is an immoral activity today given what's known. That said, there were some points made during this employee ***** session that do make me kind of hesitant to suggest employees just bounce from the company and mass quote. Please continue to fight for us, schrepp. This is the person talking to the the. Sorry. You using schrepp? I'm hearing Shrek. Shrek. I know, I know, I know. Facebook engineering needs you, representing our ethical standards in the highest levels of leadership. Unless such. What's products built by a cast of mercenaries and ghouls? We need to employ thousands of thoughtful, caring engineers, and it will be difficult to continue to hire and retain them on our present course. That's not a terrible point. OK, that feels like a 1/2 step. Yeah, yeah, it's one of those things where, like, on one hand, it is bad. To work for a company that's entire job is to do harm at scale, which is what Facebook does. On the other hand, if they are replaced by people who don't have any ethical standards at all, that also probably isn't great. Now, I don't know. I agree with that. Yeah, it's it's complicated because like, I guess you could argue that, like, well, if all of the good engineers leave and they have to hire the ghouls, like it'll fall apart eventually. And I guess it's the question of like, when does the the damage done by Facebook like fading in popularity? Hopefully eclipse the damage done by the fact that everyone working there is the Blackwater equivalent of a guy coating a ******* algorithm. Like, I don't know, it's not it's chicken. Yeah, it's yeah, it's whatever. It's an it's just something to think about, I guess. Yeah, Facebook is having a hiring crisis right now. I think it's gotten a little better recently, but they've had massive shortages of engineers and failed to meet their hiring goals in 2019-2020. I don't know if they're going to, if they have, if it's gotten better this year or not. I don't know how much any of that's gonna, like help matters. I don't know. It seems unlikely that anything will get better anytime. No, I mean, yeah, I think the real solution is to make the company run by even worse people who are less qualified, but I don't know. That doesn't. That doesn't sound great either. I don't know. I think there are volcanoes, and that probably has part of the solution to the Facebook problem in it. There you go. Cast their servers into the fires. So Mark Zuckerberg and his fellow nerd horsemen of the Apocalypse have basically. Built a gun that fires automatically into a crowd called society every couple of seconds. The engineers are the people who keep the gun. Loaded phrase. It's good, bro. Yeah, yes, yes. So the engineers, they keep the gun loaded, but also sometimes they jerk it away from shooting a child in the face. And if they leave the bolt, the gun might run out of bullets, but it's just going to keep shooting straight until the crowd until that point. So maybe it's better to have engineers jerking. Yeah, I had to end with a metaphor. I don't know. It's. Complicated. Whatever. I wanna end this episode. Yeah, it's it's just a mess. It's a messy thing to think about. We should never have let it get this far. No, we've been putting fuel on the fire for a while. We shouldn't be surprised that it's burning everything. Has become it feels like it is slowly becoming just like an annual document drop of like, yeah yeah, things have steadily gotten worse. Yeah, the held company is pretty ******. Yeah, help companies and stuff it. Nightmare Corp. It's bad. It is really bad. It's funny how bad it is. I want to end this episode with my very favorite response from a Facebook employee to that message from CTO Schrepp Facebook employee. If you happen to be listening to this episode, please hit me up because I love you. Here it is. Never forget the day Trump rode down the escalator in 2015, called for a ban on Muslims entering the US and we determined that it violated our policies. And yet we explicitly overrode the policy and didn't take the video down. There is a straight line that can be drawn from that day to today. One of the darkest days in the history of democracy and self governance. Would it have made a difference? In the end, we can never know. But history will not judge us kindly. Wow. Yeah, yeah. They know what they're doing. Yeah. You know exactly what they're doing and we get an annual reminder. We get an annual little Pelican summit drop of documents saying that no, they still know what they're doing. They have not forgotten what they're doing. I might suggest that overtake are we the baddies as like the moment, you know, things need to change when when you're like, boy, I think history might judge me for my employment decisions. I think I may be damned by like the historians of the future when they analyze my role in society. Right. And it's like, if you're at that place, that's not good. No. That we've passed the point of no return, you know, like five years ago with with Facebook. It's just good, Laura. I mean, yeah. And I and I do like applaud the whistleblowers and and the people who are continuing to drop documents. And at this point, it also does just feel like. You know, getting punched in the face repeatedly because it's like, well, I'm glad that there is the paper trail. I'm glad that there's the evidence, but it's who at this point is surprised. Like, there's. Yeah, like when people it's whatever. I mean, I technically, I think by the definition of the word, these are revelations, but they're also very much not. They're just confirmations of things that appeared very obvious based on the conduct of this company already. Yep. Yeah. Woo. Woo. Jamie, do you have any plegables for us? Do you? Do you perhaps have a Facebook owned Instagram meta thing? We don't we don't need to call it meta. I I think no one needs to call it. What? There's only one meta, and it's Metta World Peace. Wow. What that is. I know you don't that it's about to run out. He's a basketball player. Basketball player. Ron Artest changed his name no matter. World piece, like, many years ago. So he did the meta first. OK, well, all right. The Metaverse was already taken. I you can you can listen to my podcast. I gotta bunch you listen to Bechtel cast my urine menta act castle. Wait. A podcast? Or none. I won't know. I'll know. So actually Sophie will know. So maybe you better listen to them or I'll lose my livelihood. Which would be which would be interesting. You could follow me on Twitter. We left his help or Instagram at Jamie Grace superstar, where I bravely continued to use. Lockerbie's tools of havoc. Yeah. Yep. Isn't it funny, Jamie, that we call it our livelihood, which is just a nicer way of saying our ability to not starve to death in the street? Yeah, yeah, whoever. Whoever back in the day rebranded a survival to livelihood. Really real genius. Slight of hand. Incredible. This is why I think we should have a program in schools where we determine which kids are going to be good at marketing and then we ship them to an island and we don't. We don't think about it. After that point into the island they go, it's a nice island, like a good one like a solid island. I marketing island. You're marketing the island is good. I think we we put them on an island and we divert all of the world's military forces to making sure that nothing gets to that island that isn't a marketer or leaves it. And then make sure that and make ******* sure there's no Wi-Fi signal on the oh, good God, no good. Absolutely not. Absolutely no. Once a day they can watch Shark Tank together. But that's all they're getting. Good. Ohh, that's sad. That actually kind of sounds nice. Living on an island and watching one episode of Shark Tank and today that's like, that's my, like, dream lobotomy. That's kind of nice. Yeah. Well, that's the episode. Paul, Robert. Jamie, how are you doing? How are you feeling? I feel like, you know, I I am feeling just kind of a low thrumming of despair. But. But I have good. Yeah, that's right. That's how you're supposed to feel. I have felt worse at the end of this show, which I don't know if that. Says more about, like, my threshold for despair or, you know, it happens to be a coincidence. But, you know, I I'll say I'm hanging in there, but also I've been hanging in there for years. Yeah. That's all you can do is hang in there. Yeah, keep hanging in. Are you hanging in there, Robert? Allegedly. Yeah. I mean, by all accounts, you're hanging in there. But, like, internally, there's no. Who could say no, no, I'm, I'm, I'm. I'm as unmoored and adrift as the rest of us are in these. When I visit, I'm going to show you, pin, and I really think you're going to like it. Oh, good. OK, well, how hazzah? Hello, I'm Erica Kelly from the podcast Southern Fried True crime, and if you want to go from podcast fan to podcast host, do what I did and check out spreaker from iheart. I was working in accounting and hating it. Then after just 18 months of podcasting with Spreaker, I was able to quit my day job. Follow your podcasting dreams. Let's breaker handle the hosting, creation, distribution, and monetization of your podcast. Go to That's SP. RE wanna say I don't know less? Listen to stuff you should know more. Join host Josh and Chuck on the podcast packed with fascinating discussions about science, history, pop culture, and more episodes. Dive into topics like was the lost city of Atlantis Real? And how does pizza work? Say goodbye to I don't know, because after listening to stuff you should know you will listen to stuff you should know on the iHeartRadio. Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Hey there, it's Ebony Monet, your Co host for the San Diego Zoo's Amazing Wildlife podcast. In this special episode, we're speaking with Doctor Jane Goodall about the fascinating journey that led to her impactful behavioral discoveries on chimpanzees. It wasn't until one of the chimpanzees began to lose his fear of me, but I began to really make discoveries that actually shook the scientific world. Listen to amazing wildlife. IHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts.