Facebook’s drive to register 4.5 million voters swayed the November election to President Joe Biden, opined a Facebook executive in hidden camera footage.
The executive, Benny Thomas, expressed grim views of the giant tech company, but counted the voter drive among the positives of Facebook while secretly being recorded earlier this year by reporters with Project Veritas, an undercover journalism nonprofit.
“This is the good side of Facebook … we made a big difference,” he said in a video released by Veritas on March 16, explaining that Facebook exceeded its goal of registering 4 million people and could only accomplish the task thanks to its “sheer scale and reach.”
“Yeah. I’m pretty sure we [Biden] won that way,” the reporter said.
“Yea!” Thomas replied, laughing. “Exactly!”
“What do you think?” the reporter jumped in.
“Exactly. I think so too,” he said.
Thomas’s LinkedIn profile describes his position as Global Planning Lead – Creative & Experiential at Facebook since September 2019.
Facebook didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Thomas suggested to one of the reporters that Facebook needs to do more to control speech on its platforms.
“People are believing whatever they see and it’s just causing a crisis,” he said in another video published by Veritas on March 15.
When asked about his views on solutions, he said, “The answer is just more controls, more safeguards. … To give people a guide to behavior.”
Behavior needs to be kept in check through surveillance, he suggested.
“That’s called democracy. Somebody is always watching you so that you behave well,” he said.
On the other hand, he acknowledged that Facebook’s judgments are necessarily biased, even when machine-driven.
“There’s always built-in bias because this is the myth that computer programmers told us which is, ‘Oh, these are computers, computers don’t have bias.’ But guess what? Human beings wrote that code. And that human being has bias.”
Conservatives and some liberals have long complained that Facebook is censoring political speech based on vague, partly secret, everchanging, and unevenly enforced policies.
Thomas also argued that Facebook and Google have grown so powerful, they need to be split apart.
“The government needs to step in and break up Google and Facebook. I’ll make less money but it’s a better thing for the world,” he said.
Facebook needs to be stripped of its major subsidiaries, he suggested.
“Instagram, Facebook, Messenger, Oculus, WhatsApp. They all need to be separate companies. It’s too much power when they’re all one together,” he said.
“It needs to be broken up the way the telecom companies were broken up and the oil companies were broken up. But better than that, because those guys just came back together pretty soon after that. I hope we’ve learned from that. But that’s really the one thing, as you said, I would break it up and I would remove Zuck [Mark Zuckerberg] as the CEO.”
Facebook’s power eases to be innocuous, he said, “when you weaponize it as a politician and you go, ‘Tell me, show me people who are racist,’” such as when “a racist politician” is looking to target messaging to “several racists who will vote” for him.
When the reporter asked who would decide what makes one a racist and how would Facebook determine it, Thomas mused, “What would be a proxy for a racist?”
“Lives in all white town, education, religious preference,” he said. “So you can triangulate three or four data points and say, ‘She’s likely to be racist.’”
Thomas also criticized Zuckerberg’s investment in gene-editing technology.
“It’s eugenics. I don’t know any way to stop it. I think the genie’s out of the bottle,” he said.
He was worried the technology would lead to development of a “superior race” of people and extreme polarization of society into “haves” and “have-nots” that goes beyond mere wealth differences. “They have a thing that I can never have,” he described the position of the “have-nots.”
When confronted by one of the reporters, Thomas refused to go on record and clarify his comments.