It seems like Facebook is headed towards more investigation and scrutiny as recently, Facebook has been alleged to be using internal tools to monitor users and censor content. What are they? Let’s find out.
On Tuesday, the CEO of Facebook was summoned for questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee wherein the Missouri Republic Josh Hawley took the opportunity to grill him.
Hawley confronted Zuckerberg by asking him about the existence of two undisclosed internal tools which an anonymous Facebook whistleblower brought to light.
Apparently, the tools are called Tasks and Centra, and, according to the claim, they help Facebook coordinate with Twitter and Google on matters of censorship and monitor Facebook users’ activities across the internet, respectively.
The U.S Republican senator, after the end of the questioning, went on Twitter and wrote that Zuckerberg admitted under oath that the social media behemoth does indeed have tools which track users without their knowledge, but he didn’t answer how many Americans the tools have been used against till date.
The tweet of Hawley sparked controversy as many online media houses blatantly gave the verdict against the Mark Zuckerberg, claiming that he has accepted of using tools to monitor Facebook users.
When we dig deep into the transcripts of Zuckerberg, during the entire session with the senator, he didn’t confirm any such thing. The 36-year old Facebook CEO kept saying he has no knowledge of the existence of such tools by that name and that his team will get back to Hawley on the same.
Zuckerberg also denied the alleged claim that his company is in direct coordination with Twitter and Google when it comes to content censorship, though he later added that it is ‘pretty normal’ for Facebook employees to be communicating with their peers at other companies.
According to Zuckerberg, the only shared intel between Facebook, Twitter and Google are related to security such as terrorism, child exploitation images and foreign election interference.
So, do these tools actually exist?
According to Emily Birnbaum, who is a tech policy reporter for Protocol, they do!
Following the questioning of Mark Zuckerberg, she went on to tweet that the tools do in fact exist as Facebook apparently told her that Centra is used to help the company investigate subject matters such as coordinated inauthentic behaviour. And, Tasks is an internal coordination tool, much like a to-do list (as told to her by Mark Zuckerberg himself.)
But then, why would the Facebook CEO deny about the same during the questioning? It is a question that remains unanswered for now.
It is very well known that the social media giant does use several internal tools such as Deep Entity Classification to terminate fake accounts and many others to keep testing new features, help stop the spread of misinformation and so on. Being an outsider looking in, it is incredibly hard to concretely predict if what the unknown whistleblower has revealed holds to be true.
Also, the fact that Facebook has had a very shady past when it comes to transparency and user privacy doesn’t help them when it comes to these new allegations. Instead, it further adds more fuel to the flame. Will Facebook will be forced to admit the existence of such internal tools publicly, or will they keep refuting these claims is anybody’s guess right now. We will keep you updated. Until then, stay tuned.