According to internal messages released in secret by a whistleblower, Facebook employees complained that Breitbart was included in their news tab.

The George Floyd protests in June 2020 prompted the complaints.

Breitbart is a conservative website that was once run by Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s chief strategist. Their headlines suggested a hardline approach towards the protests. 

One Facebook employee wrote, “Get Breitbart Out of News Tab,” in documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal. 

The employee shared headlines from Breitbart such as: ‘Minneapolis Mayhem: Riots in Masks,’ ‘Massive Looting, Buildings in Flames, Bonfires!’ BLM Protesters Slam Police Cars on 101.

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, is under intense pressure to explain the company's policies on hate speech and their publishing of material

Mark Zuckerberg is the founder and CEO at Facebook. He is under intense pressure from his employees to explain Facebook’s hate speech policies and their publication of material policies.

Facebook's headquarters are seen in Menlo Park, California

Facebook’s headquarters can also be seen in Menlo Park.

A person is seen reading the Breitbart website on their phone. The conservative news website remains controversial

Breitbart website is read by a person on their mobile phone. The controversial conservative news site is still being used.

According to the employee, headlines were ’embematic’ of a coordinated effort at Breitbart as well as other hyperpartisan sources (none belong in News Tab), to portray Black Americans and Black-led groups in a very negative light.

Facebook’s concerns about Breitbart were not new. 

One employee on the Facebook Audience Network in 2018, for whom Facebook sells advertising and who was working on the project, suggested that Facebook remove Breitbart.

“My argument is that Breitbart can monetize through me is, in fact a political statement,” the person wrote in an internal memo. 

“It’s an acceptance for extreme, hateful, and often false news used in order to propagate fear and racism.”

However, Facebook senior executives were reluctant to take action against Breitbart, despite being concerned about bias accusations.

A member of Facebook’s integrity team stated that Breitbart was hindering efforts against hate speech in 2020. 

The employee claimed that they make exceptions to our written policies and include them as trusted partners in our core product.

Breitbart was singled for its approach to George Floyd protests. An employee commented that Facebook’s leaders would struggle against Breitbart out of fear of being called biased.

Facebook employees were concerned in June 2020 with the way Breitbart was reporting on the George Floyd protests

Facebook employees were concerned about the reporting Breitbart did on the George Floyd protests in June 2020.

Facebook employees said that Breitbart was demonizing the protesters angered by George Floyd's murder

Facebook employees claimed that Breitbart was demonizing protesters upset by George Floyd’s murder

According to the researcher, “At best, it would not be a very difficult political discussion.”  

A senior researcher answered a staffer’s question about removing Breitbart. He stated that he had seen drops in trust in CNN two years ago. Would we then take the same approach for them?

Another employee in a different discussion said that the far-right website was being granted a pass from Facebook’s usual rules about journalistic standards, saying of Breitbart: ‘We’re scared of political backlash if we enforce our policies without exemptions.’ 

The Wall Street Journal, which has published a series about the internal workings at Silicon Valley’s firm, reported that Facebook enforces its rules equally and that politics do not play any role in its decision making.

Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesperson, stated that the company makes changes to reduce bad or low-quality content in order to improve users’ experiences on the platform. 

“When it is about changes that will affect public pages like publishers we analyze the effect before we make it.” 

Facebook has been accused for being biased against conservatives since its inception. This accusation has been amplified by Trump’s ban from the platform earlier in the year, after he was found violating Facebook’s rule against inciting violence.

Facebook stated that Trump’s comments regarding the January 6 riots are dangerous and should not have been shared on the platform.  

On Friday a new whistleblower affidavit submitted by a former Facebook employee accused the social media giant of prioritizing profits over their due diligence to combat hate speech, misinformation and other threats to the public. 

The new allegations were made anonymously and under penalty of perjury. They echo the claims of Frances Haugen who testified in a scathing manner before Congress earlier this year about Facebook’s moral failings.

The new allegations come after whistleblower Frances Haugen, pictured, testified before Congress earlier this month over Facebook's failings

The new allegations were made after Frances Haugen (pictured) testified earlier this month before Congress about Facebook’s failures

The anonymous whistleblower accused one of Facebook's  top communication officials, Tucker Bounds, pictured, of brushing aside an employee's concern of misinformation

The anonymous whistleblower accused one of Facebook’s  top communication officials, Tucker Bounds, pictured, of brushing aside an employee’s concern of misinformation

The most dramatic part of the affidavit is where the ex-employe laments over Facebook’s inability quickly to stop racial killings and massacres in Myanmar in 2017. In 2017, military officials used Facebook to spread hate speech. 

The whistleblower wrote that he, as a Facebook employee, was a party to genocide.  

The anonymous whistleblower who worked on Facebook’s Integrity Team shared a story about a top official of the company, which was based on Haugen’s statements. According to the Washington Post, 

According to reports, Tucker Bounds, a Facebook communications official, said that the company was trying to end political controversy after Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections.

“Some legislators will get pissy. They will then move on to something else in a few more weeks. We are doing fine, while we print money in our basement. 

The whistleblower stated that Bounds’ alleged view was common among the company’s leadership. Other former employees have also claimed that Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, and Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer, were well aware that there were problems. 

Bounds has denied the claim. Both he and Facebook have criticized the Washington Post for reporting the affidavit. 

Erin McPike, a Facebook spokesperson, stated that it was a dangerous precedent to base an entire story on one source making many claims without any apparent corroboration. 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg

Former employees said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, left, and COO Sheryl Sandberg were aware of Facebook’s failings but did little to fix the situation

Zuckerberg, shown testifying before congress in 2019, has defended his company despite leaked documents and testimony from former employees detailing the company's wrongs

Zuckerberg, seen testifying before congress in 2019, has stood by his company despite the leak of documents and testimony from former employees about the company’s wrongs

Haugen and Haugen’s new whistleblower also filed the allegations to Securities and Exchange Commission. The Commission oversees all publicly traded corporations. 

The anonymous ex-employee in the SEC affidavit alleges that Facebook officials routinely undermined efforts within Facebook to fight misinformation, hate speech, and out of fear of angering Trump or his allies. 

Former employee claimed that Facebook’s Public Policy team had once defended a “white list” that exempted Breitbart News from Facebook’s normal rules against spreading fake information. 

Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice-president of global policy, dismissed employee concerns about this policy. 

Kaplan allegedly asked, “Do you want to start fighting with Steven Bannon?” 

Former employees had previously criticised Kaplan for allegedly trying to protect conservative interests on Facebook. However, Kaplan denies that he ever showed bias. 

He insisted that there has never been a whitelist exempting publishers, including Breitbart from Facebook’s rules against misinformation.