A top Facebook executive warned in 2016 that taking down all instances of political misinformation would “disproportionately affect” conservative users of the social network, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.
The warning came in the weeks following the 2016 presidential election, when Facebook was in the early stages of developing “Project P” — for propaganda — in an effort to streamline how misinformation about American elections and politics was identified and removed from the site.
The program quickly found dozens of pages that had put out false information about the election in the weeks leading up to the election. It was also discovered that the majority of the pages were based overseas, had financial motives and exhibited significant conservative bias, the Post reported.
When higher-ups in the company moved to have all of the pages removed, Joel Kaplan, now head of Facebook’s Washington office and the highest-ranking Republican at the company, reportedly pushed back.
“We can’t remove all of it because it will disproportionately affect conservatives,” said Kaplan, according to the report.
When others involved in the discussion stated that the pages were producing “fake news,” Kaplan reportedly replied: “They don’t believe it to be fake news.”
The end result was that the worst of the pages were taken down, but the majority of them remained, according to the Post report.