The controversy over Facebook’s role in the spread of fake news in the 2016 presidential election continued to rage this week, and now Facebook employees themselves are weighing in on the issue. Investigators have recently accused Facebook of selling $100,000 in ads to a shady Russian company, and according to several former content moderators, the site did nothing to prepare them for the challenge of detecting such propaganda.
The moderators, who mostly worked on contract for around $18 an hour, said that Facebook bans ads that exploit “controversial political or social issues,” and many of the Russian ads would certainly fall under that category. However, the moderators said only the most egregious ads were usually flagged. These reviewers were also supposed to question an ad buyer’s business model and analyze strangely-targeted ads, but it doesn’t seem like that happened enough to stop the Russian interference. With how many ads cross the desk of a reviewer on a given day, it’s no surprise such subtle spam was able to slip through. And that has left some former moderators feeling guilty over their role in the whole ordeal.
“I was so disappointed but also not surprised,” a former Facebook worker said. “And it freaks me out that I may have had a hand, in some small way, of disseminating those things.”
With federal warrants out for Facebook’s information, it’s clear this controversy isn’t going away any time soon—and people are demanding answers from the world’s largest social network.