Big Tech Censorship Consortium News Joe Lauria Media Ukraine

Facebook Warns About Consortium News Story

Facebook has put out contradictory warnings about a Consortium News article on the Bucha massacre: it both says the piece does and does not violate its standards. Joe Lauria reports.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before Congress, April 2018. (C-Span screenshot)

By Joe Lauria / Consortium News

Social media giant Facebook has slapped a warning on an article published by Consortium News, saying at the same time that the piece does not violate its community standards and then saying it does. 

The article, reporting that there are questions about who is responsible for the massacre at Bucha, Ukraine, appears on Facebook news feeds with a cover over the photograph associated with the article.

Clicking on the “Learn More” button brings you to a window that clearly says the article “doesn’t go against our Community Standards” but it is covered because it “may show graphic content” and “people can choose whether to see it.” 

Presumably, clicking on “See Link” will unveil the photo, which shows two dead bodies inside a room with an open door somewhere in Bucha. The photo is graphic but there are much more graphic photos and videos from Ukraine circulating on social media.  Clicking on “See Link” does reveal the photo on the news feed.

However, after clicking on the post to read the article a new window appears, with totally contradictory information:

“You should only go to links you trust,” the warning says. “The link you tried to go to does not follow our Community Standards.” This completely contradicts the earlier warning that says the article “doesn’t go against our Community Standards.” It appears that Facebook algorithms are disagreeing with each other.

Facebook says its Community Standards are based on these values (click to enlarge):

Somewhere one of Facebook’s algorithms thinks (if an algorithm can think) that the Consortium News article warning against a rush to judgement about who was responsible for the Bucha massacre did not violate any of these standards, and another algorithm thinks it did. The second one thinks Consortium News has violated the dignity, safety, and/or privacy of its users or that Consortium News misrepresented “who they are or what they’re doing.”

Facebook has a responsibility to stop doxxing, and to stop terrorists promoting their cause (if there’s wide agreement on who are terrorists). It should not be interfering with legitimate journalism.

It also might help if it first gets its algorithms on the same page.

Joe Lauria

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers, including The Montreal Gazette and The Star of Johannesburg. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London, a financial reporter for Bloomberg News and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times.  He can be reached at joelauria@consortiumnews.com and followed on Twitter @unjoe  

20 comments

      1. @Paula
        Virtual reality. The very strong implication is that Facebook knows virtual reality, not actual reality.

      2. To Paula,
        Sorry, I though pretty much everyone knew about FB’s new “face” – VR = virtual reality – that seems to me a good definition, finally, of what their position has been for awhile – real “reality” is out, virtual “reality” is in …

  1. Consortium News has consistently provided some of the most important and accurate journalism extant. It has long advocated for the release of Julian Assange who is being slowly murdered by the UK and US governments while the corporate media watches in silence. To paraphrase George Orwell, If you want to know the future, I can tell you now; it’s what’s happening to Julian Assange.

    1. I agree with everything you say here and the shameful imprisonment of Julian Assange, must be one of the worst
      crimes, that a UK Government has the audacity to commit..
      Sadly our mainstream media, remain silent on Julian completely, but, maybe they have a deal already, with Government, to publish what suits Boris and his far right
      Government! I can t believe this Government remains in power, after the long list of lies and bad behaviour we ve seen from Boris!

  2. Just got a warning from Twitter, as I’d posted a innocuous aside, about interns pushing Energy In Depth tropes, Hillary’s $360K TD Bank Trans-Canada, speech was largely rip and read Rick Berman agitprop about slick-water fracking/ bitumen protesting was paid for by Putin? I’m guessing, after Congress begins resembling a “Justified” casting call, our IP/ DNS will be sold to Israeli antiterrorist firms’ III% OathKeeper churls to pay us all a wellness visit?

  3. FB, enacted a similar stratagem in regards to a posting about Mai Lai, that was critical of Colin Powell and other high ranking individuals in the military.

    FB doesn’t have community standards, it has a marketing strategy.

  4. Scott Ritter had a good idea: Since social media like Facebook and Twitter are being pressured by the government to censor things that the government doesn’t like, we might have a viable lawsuit to stop this censorship. Any First Amendment attorneys out there?

    1. To Jeff,
      Here’s the problem – the Bill of Rights and its prohibition against denial of certain rights applies only to Gov’t actions – private corps have no obligation to guarantee those rights to anybody – and adding insult to injury, when Corps were “declared” people, they were themselves guaranteed the same rights as people – but with no requirement themselves to guarantee them to others …

      1. @SH
        Ritter’s point was that since it’s the government that’s pressuring the social media companies to censor, someone could file suit against the government to stop the censorship or at least the pressure to do so. I’m not a First Amendment attorney so I don’t know the details, but it sounds like it’s worth looking into.

  5. Break up these monopolies now. These corporations dictate policy to this government as our so-called representative work for them and are paid very nicely for their efforts while the majority of this population see our standard of living constantly getting worse. This control, censorship and framing of the narrative makes change extremely difficult and is increasingly dangerous both on the national and international arenas.

    1. To Henry,
      I think a real issue here, one that I think the implications of which are too often overlooked – more and more our communications media are being run by algorithms – not people. As he said in the article, the algorithms seem to be disagreeing with each other – is there any human involved here – the right algorithm doesn’t know what the left one is doing and nobody is running the show – but nobody can be held to account – “duh, we didn’t do it, the algorithm did” so until the SC decrees that algorithms, like corps. are “people” – don’t laugh the move will be in the direction of declaring AIs, of which algorithms are their bastard children, “people”, there will be more and more screw-ups because no “body ” can be held to account
      Autonomous drones are another example – when they kill folks, whose fault is it?

  6. All self-appointed information police are biased and therefore corrupted. Simply report the facts as facts, and forget the commentary if that is possible. If there is a disagreement over facts then state it. But the public should be told about all of the claims as they are supported by whatever facts are being relied upon. I will never trust any social media for determining the so-called “Community Standards” whose community, what community? This is PROPAGANDA if it comes from Facebook..

    1. @Edward Case
      I wouldn’t trust any government or large corporation, and that goes double for the U.S. government. Facebook is a large corporation, so it spews corporate propaganda as a matter of course.

  7. Hi SH,
    Algorithms have no capacity to be responsible for anything, any more than any other mathematical function. Which is all they are. A function that is designed to produce a desired result when run against a particular type of data. Algorithms are not AI’s bastard children, more like the other way round if anything.

    There is currently no such thing as Artificial Intelligence, and it isn’t looking like it will be a thing for quite some time. I’m currently sitting in an AI R&D lab at a Fortune 50, some of whose products you have owned. I guarantee you I am smarter than any of the computers running in my racks, and I’m not that smart. I guess one benefit of the coming environmental catastrophe is that we won’t have to worry about the singularity. Those damn robot dogs that Boston Dynamics is brewing up on the other hand…

    As far as battling algorithms, this is unsurprising to me, having tested a lot of software. All software has defects, much as all books have typos. Given a sprawling behemoth like FB, a couple of routines written by different coders quite possibly in different business units conflicting is highly plausible. The real problem, I think, is that FB doesn’t care about getting this right. Their mitigation efforts for the endless stream of vileness generated by (the humans) on their platform are only in place to try and keep the government and do-gooders off their backs so they can keep on sucking in the loot. Which is why there are mostly no humans involved in policing their platform. Humans are expensive, cranky infrastructure.
    Bots may not work very well, but they are cheap to run once in place.

    Whose fault is this? Like the autonomous drones you refer to, it’s the fault of the human beings that designed, built, and programmed them, and set them in motion. Blaming the machines you built for the evil they do in the world has no more validity than ” I was just following orders.”

    As far as all that about how evil Meta and all the other Web outfits are? All that is absolutely true! 😉
    Which is why I haven’t had an FB account since about ’09, and strongly recommend that you get rid of yours if you have one.

    1. To E.W.
      I think, though I dunno, that perhaps you have misunderstood what i was trying to say ….
      The words we use to describe things quite often do – hence the “Artificial” in AI – it is no more genuine than the intelligence spewed by our “intelligence” agencies – it is fabricated and formulated from “data” that is fed into it – data without reflection or context – and suffers from what Whitehead termed the Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness – it will never have all the “data” that is needed to blossom into a true “intelligence”, (perhaps we never will either) – but we talk about and think we can construct “self-learning” machines that will be “smarter than we are” – and that is the danger, it seems to me – hence those robot dogs or autonomous drones – devoid of human control – a truly dystopian project. But one that, in fact, will allow those who make them to deny responsibility for the decisions they make.
      I do think that AI is one of the biggest existential threats that face us – as it gets “intelligent” enough to be able to dodge human control in following its “programming” – programming that it designs itself … And we will not recognize that “tipping point” until it is too late, just as with nuclear power
      This, along with genetic engineering, fooling around with the building blocks of life, 4 billion years in the making – thinking we can “control” them when we don’t even understand them, is the apex of human hubris – hubris that has been recognized in “fables” from ancient times – from Pandora’s Box to Icarus Wings to the Tower of Babel – all stories of what happens when we get “too big for our britches” – we will have our own version …
      The Metaverse – of AR (another “artificial” concoction), and VR (virtual as opposed to concrete) is something else that may well tempt people to the point that too many will prefer to live there – while the Titans continue to suck up the real world – before they blast off to another planet – I hope they do that soon – and the joke will be on them when they get there and realize there is no going back …
      As to FB, Twitter, et.al. , never “signed in”, same with Google’s U-tube – though I have visited the latter 2. No doubt they have all my “data” to feed into their models, but I have not given it freely …

    2. @E. W. Furster
      That’s total BS. If algorithms were merely flawed instead of being censor tools for the establishment, then why do only anti-establishment posts and people get censored? Only a fool would believe what you wrote. Furthermore, Facebook and all other large social media platforms are part of corporate America, and they’re happy to censor whatever is in their interest to do so. It’s true that they’re trying to appease the government and some users, but they’re also trying to propagandize for corporate America. If you don’t believe so, I’ve got a great deal for you on some bridges.

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