Facebook is no stranger to controversial content moderation decisions. Because of the company’s complicated rules and structure, it’s never entirely clear how it reaches decisions on who or what should be allowed to remain on the platform. And according to a recent bombshell from BuzzFeed News, sometimes it’s Mark Zuckerberg himself who steps in to change the rules.
According to the report, the Facebook founder and CEO personally intervened to lessen the punishment of notorious misinformation spreader Alex Jones — despite the objections of many of his employees.
“That was the first time I experienced having to create a new category of policy to fit what Zuckerberg wanted. It’s somewhat demoralizing when we have established a policy and it’s gone through rigorous cycles. Like, what the fuck is that for?” a former Facebook policy employee told BuzzFeed News on the condition of anonymity.
For its part, Facebook vigorously denied the allegations, calling it a “conspiracy theory” that any one individual has so much authority at the company.
“Recycling the same warmed over conspiracy theories about the influence of one person at Facebook doesn’t make them true,” Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone said. “The reality is big decisions at Facebook are made with input from people across different teams who have different perspectives and expertise in different areas. To suggest otherwise is absurd.”
Despite Facebook’s claim, it isn’t hard to believe that Zuckerberg would step in to meddle with Facebook’s moderation decisions. However, it is scary that a company as powerful as Facebook could change its policies based on the whims of one person.
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