Whistleblower details 'training manual' used for censorship on Facebook | Ryan Hartwig with Ezra

On Wednesday's episode of The Ezra Levant Show, former Facebook censor Ryan Hartwig joined the show to explain how the social media giant was involved in censoring Canadians during the 2019 federal election.

Ryan spoke to Ezra previously about a number of Facebook's censorship subjects and tactics that were deployed by censors like himself that were tasked with policing what was, and more importantly, was not allowed to be posted on the platform during the lead-up to the federal election.

This time around, Ryan showed Ezra the handbook distributed to the company he worked for that had the principles which guided what would be censored. 

Some of the things outlined by Ryan included:

In this example [Canada's 2019 federal election], these are expected violations: hate speech, fake accounts, impersonations, voter fraud. So there's some things that are legitimate. But hate speech always seems to be [enforced when] attacking people on the left and coming from people on the right. So it just kind of goes along with that whole media slant that right wingers are racists.

Disinformation about where and went to vote, or impersonating someone else are things that most people are going to support. The trouble arises when things are less clear; a subject like hate speech, for example, is much harder to definitively define. 

As Ryan explains: For example, if I say on Facebook, 'Ezra is a Trump humper,' and you report it directly, that stays up. But if I call you a snowflake, that gets taken down.

Another issue with hate speech that Ryan detailed centred on NDP candidate Jagmeet Singh, who was featured in the training manual issued to Ryan's company.

Ryan told Ezra about the difficulty presented by someone always wearing a head covering that is associated with a religion:

There were some slides [in the manual] about hate speech towards Jagmeet Singh. They were basically explaining that Jagmeet Singh is protected under the hate speech policy because of his physical appearance, because he's wearing a head covering.

Hate speech protects against attacks against someone's religion, so it's kind of this grey area because if you're attacking him as a candidate and you have a picture of him, technically any attack on him would be considered an attack against his religion because he's always wearing the head covering.

So his religion is basically one and the same as him as a person. As a content moderator it's very easy to interpret an attack on him as a person an attack on his religion.

Ryan also explained how Facebook policies impact political memes and cartoons, saying: 

There is a part of the policy that is 'visual hate speech.' So if I have a cartoon character of someone with a turban and I say with a caption 'that person's dumb' that gets deleted for hate speech because that visual of a person wearing a head covering would signify that person's religion.

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