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As Facebook on behalf of the government fights democracy - an insider unpacks

By Hanno Vollenweider and Jürgen Fritz A former employee who worked several months for Facebook in an extinguishing center spoke to Hanno Vollenweider. What she reports is pure explosive that would shake the country in a not only external, formal, but real democracy.






I. Foreword by Jürgen Fritz 

The Federal Republic of Germany is a democratic federal state in accordance with Article 20 paragraph 1 Basic Law (GG). All state power comes from the people (paragraph 2) and is exercised in elections and votes. One of the most important fundamental and human rights is the right to freedom of expression, or more precisely freedom of expression and freedom of information in accordance with Article 5 of the Basic Law. For how should a people of the state exercise its sovereignty if it does not receive essential information or if the individual is not allowed to disseminate information? 

The basis of any qualified decision is always the consideration of the pros and cons. This consideration requires that both sides be heard. The principle of Audiatur et altera pars(Hear the other side, too) is one of the foundations not only of democracy, but of the law, which we already find among the ancient Romans. 

What Hanno Vollenweider now uncovers on The Incorruptible shows how much the most elementary principles of democracy and the rule of law are disregarded and indeed undermined and opposed. And this probably with support, if not at the direct behest of the highest places. He talked with an insider, a former employee who worked in Facebook's firefighting center. Incredible things come to light.

It not only describes the perfidious methods and technical refinements with which Facebook attempted to influence the opinion of countless users, especially before the last general election. It also explains to the attentive listener the reasons behind this method, which is still active: suppressing information in order to prevent critical thoughts from being brewed by citizens. 
II. Excerpts from the interview

Hanno Vollenweider: Melanie, thank you very much for choosing to talk to me about your work on Facebook. To summarize: You worked for about three months for a company that monitors the activities of users on behalf of Facebook, imposed barriers, checks posts and deletes or shut down entire user accounts and for that fact that certain information - reinforced, for example before the last general election by a special filter mechanism - not to the mass of Facebook users pervades. (...) I would be interested to know how you have been told what to do and above all why.

Melanie C .: Well, I've been told that soon the laws in Germany will change because of the many hate posts and fake news on Facebook. And that Facebook needs support to filter out and delete these messages. (...) I think that's how I sounded very convinced, because they told me immediately, then I should come to the training company in a few days directly to the company that works on behalf of Facebook. Then there would be a kind of lecture and introduction for the people who start over there. I really went out there and thought to myself "Wow, now you finally do something that is good for humanity, and against hate and Nazis". That's what they also gave me to understand during the conversation. 
Messages "that only confuse users" have been deleted

Hanno Vollenweider: Okay, so you went to this introductory event. How was it there? 

Melanie C .: ... My mentor, the Sabine, said back then that we need to be aware of the responsibility we would carry here. After all, we are facing an important general election. And a post on Facebook can quickly divide thousands of times and then, so to speak viral reach millions of people. Among them, there would also be news that would confuse the users or cause trouble in the population or incite them. And then, finally, more people would choose the Nazis from the AfD. Which would then mean that the violence increases again and we have something like in the Third Reich. And she did not want that, and of course I did not.
The Nazis (AfD) may not come back to power 

Hanno Vollenweider: That's what Sabine said that? If you think rationally and omit this pointless comparison between AfD and the Third Reich, she has actually said that she sits there and erases messages that can make people rethink their political opinions or criticize them Would encourage politics. That would be a kind of influence, as they should not otherwise in a democracy. 

Melanie C .: Yes, that's what she said. And it goes even further: She said then, we would be the shield of democracy and would do a lot with our work for the fact that the Nazis - so they always meant the AfD - would not come to power in Germany.
We were urged to still delete more 

Hanno Vollenweider: But did not surprise you? To forbid others to intervene or intervene in the formation of opinions, is already something else than to delete threats or insulting comments and perhaps to warn one or the other failed users? 

Melanie C .: Yes, today I think about it differently. But at the time, I was totally convinced that that was right, what I'm doing. Everyone there thought so. Nobody criticized anything. On the contrary, it has still been encouraged to extinguish more or more and ban it. 
There were whippersaws like on a Roman galley 

Hanno Vollenweider: In this regard you have told me in the preliminary talk of your supervisor.

Melanie C .: Yes, you have to imagine it this way: there were about 40 people in one room and two people were supervisors, who should be contacted if you had questions, was not sure, or found postings from a website has not yet been in the list of fake and hate news sites. But they always crept around us and looked over our shoulders at the screen. Like a kind of whip on a Roman galley. Since then it has sometimes happened that some have grumbled, if you have not removed posts that the system - so the algorithm - has picked out because of the words used as a potential fake or hate message, but personally for actually rather harmless or just kept normal reporting.


There was no time to read before deleting Hanno Vollenweider: Okay, let's go into the details. So Facebook has a program, an algorithm that uses the words and the source or website from which the message comes to decide whether a message is fake news, hate message, etc. or not. And then you sat there in front of the PC and carried out a form of final inspection, if you want to call it that. Is that correct? Have you read or researched all these messages or how should I imagine? It takes time to really check the truth, and if necessary you also have to put things up for discussion.

Melanie C .: To your first question: Yes, the program is like that. And to your second question: No, we did not have the time, and no one wanted that there. Within a very short time, we had to decide what we let through and what we did not. We did not actually read the posts there. For that was not the time in the mass of messages that came in there. At the beginning, I also looked at the messages in some detail. But if you get yelled two or three times because you're too slow or trust the algorithm, you're just nodding your head off. 
There are blacklists

Hanno Vollenweider: You said earlier that you had a list of hate news sites. What was there for websites and how did they say 'qualified' to get on this list? 

Melanie C .: There were a lot of pages from home and abroad on it. For sure 300 pieces or more. These were pages like PI-News, Philosophia Perennis or your page The Unforgettable. But also many smaller blogs of any people. Many foreign sites too. So mostly sites that report critically about the government or, for example, refugees and crime of refugees and foreigners.

Who comes on this list, the supervisors have decided. They evaluated this on the basis of the amount of hate messages and fake news that filtered out the system. In addition there were always updates from I say outside of which pages and which messages come on the list or what we prefer then as spam, fake and hate news should abtun. We had a meeting twice a week in the morning, where they kept us up to date. 
Regularly came a visit from a lady of a foundation 

Hanno Vollenweider: What does "there came updates from outside"?

Melanie C .: Again and again we had a visit from a young lady, who spoke at the meetings from time to time and thanked us for our work. According to statements of the other employees, she has worked for a foundation commissioned by the Federal Government to look after hate speech on the Internet and, for example, on Facebook. I did not find out more about it. So that made me suspicious in hindsight. But it was also the lady who, four weeks before the election, tied the circle of messages that we were supposed to let through ever closer. Since we had an extra meeting that has gone over two hours. That's when she taught us how important our work is right now.

Hanno Vollenweider: Okay, maybe the names of the Bertelsmann or Amadeo Antonio foundation were dropped? 

Melanie C .: I can not say that exactly. But that could be good. That's one of the things I'm just beginning to question. 
Before the general election, any criticism of the government's course should be deleted 

Hanno Vollenweider: Could you explain the procedure before the general election a little closer? Did you have to delete more then? What messages were then increasingly deleted? You also said something about "messages leaked". What do you mean, especially in this context?

Melanie C .: Yes, we were told before the election that the Right would drive an incredible campaign on social networks to influence the many undecided voters. Then we should then filter out very strong. It was not about any fake news, but about things that really happened. We then had to, for example, the reporting from right sides about things like the murder and the process of the student from Stuttgart, so the Maria, who was killed and raped by the refugee, or the machete rapist from Bonn and all these blatant things, hold back the refugees, so they do not put more on the right side.

Even things that were criticism, for example, to the European Union and criticism of the government, not only because of the refugee policy, we should, as far as possible, filter. In addition, we were once again pointed out quite concretely that we should not tell anyone, not even our parents, in detail what we are doing. That's when I started doubting the whole thing. It all had something of a secret service in a bad movie. 
Often we tried to wegzumobben the people by permanent harassment 

Hanno Vollenweider: So you have permanently deleted all these messages. It must have been an amazing job, with millions of users posting the same message over and over again.

Melanie C .: The least is really deleted. I also asked why we do not just throw the people who put these things on Facebook over and over again. But I was told that would not work. It's just too many people, and it would not be so directly compatible with freedom of expression if you simply strangled those people.

We had a list of several thousand users who had noticed the multiple posting of extreme content. We then tried these people, very active simply - I call it "wegzumobben" times in which we have repeatedly blocked the account or features were restricted, for example, they were blocked for 30 days or 7 days could post anything. Sure, we were able to delete the very fierce ones, because they had then violated the Facebook rules. But for those who do not actually post anything that is forbidden, but only things that are just right, we have just these methods ascended. That was crowned with success in many cases. More than half of the temporarily suspended profiles - at least that's what they told me - did not send in IDs,
And then there's the Shadowban, the subtle kind of censorship 

Yes, and then there were the very stubborn users, the groups of AfD-learners, these patriots, Reich citizens and what they are all called, and the fan pages, some blogs operate on Facebook and post their own posts. For those only helps to make their posts for others no longer visible, something we have - you had asked so synonymous - synonymous with contributions from some supposed fake news sites made, for you, for example.

Hanno Vollenweider: So a so-called Shadowban, where you can indeed make a contribution to his profile or in a group as a user, but then in the timelines of other users, ie friends or people who are with one in the same group, does not show up, as it would be usual and appropriate. Or. Posts that you can only see if you are specifically looking for them. Is that meant? 

Melanie C .: Yes, that's how it works.

Hanno Vollenweider: But that's censorship! Even in the worst way. After all, it suggests people that they have a free opinion and could also announce this. Nobody sees them. I'd like to say that we already knew something like that, because with us, the click rate of those who come from Facebook on our blog has fallen by more than 90 percent. Blogger colleagues like David Berger say it's even worse.

Many critical bloggers have even been disposed of, I've seen. Or you have harassed her because of some mumpitz. Jürgen Fritz is the way it went. And Anabelle Schunke, as far as I know. Even our author Garwin Weissenstein has been deleted after an Islam critical contribution simply his profile. Here we show the link to the page on which the well-known lawyer Joachim Steinhöfel has collected a lot of cases in this direction ( https://facebook-sperre.steinhoefel.de/ ). But honestly, have not you thought about it, you could become something like a new Internet Stasi? 
More than three quarters of the deleted items were not fake news at all

Melanie C .: Towards the end yes. At least me. I could not do that either. But when I touched on the topic, I was either approached by colleagues or told that Facebook was a private company and could do whatever it wanted. In addition, since the NetzDG was already as good as decided thing, and it has been explained to me, Facebook must do so, because otherwise it would get huge penalties from the government and Facebook then perhaps no longer exists in Germany or something.

I have to explain it this way, because I was more or less surrounded only by young men who totally supported everything we did there. Many of them are politically active, and in some smoker breaks, one or the other has even become really aggressive when it comes to recent news or the AfD or something. Then there were proverbs that I would have expected from Nazis, but not from people I initially thought normal.

I have many of the things that we had to censor, even in the evening still went through the head. Then I started researching. I myself have been on The Unforgally, JournalistWatch, Opposition24 - and how they all got hot - and have recalculated the things. For more than three-quarters of the articles, I have found evidence that these are not fake news. 
In retrospect, I feel as if I had manipulated and cheated people 

Hanno Vollenweider: You said to me in the preliminary talk, you had in the end because of the aggressiveness that prevailed there, really afraid to say something and made the decision, you the public tell. What do you think about what happened today?

Melanie C .: Hanno, I feel really bad. I feel like I have really done something bad. Also to the victims of the crime in the articles that I had to dismiss as spam. I feel as if I somehow manipulated people and cheated on their own opinion. 

Hanno Vollenweider: One last question, Melanie. There will be people who think that this interview is just fake news. Are you available with your testimony when it comes to official investigations, so with your full name? 

Melanie C .: Yes, definitely.

Hanno Vollenweider: Melanie, thank you for the interview. I hope that we can open many people's eyes, and maybe because of your statement what is happening. As I learned on the way to you today, the OSCE has already sharply criticized the Network Search Law. From there it is said that this law might have a deterrent effect on freedom of expression. Maybe this legacy of Heiko Maas will be the shortest law in Germany. We can only hope for our freedom and our democracy. 


The full interview can be found herebe read (including video of the postponed conversation). I thank Mr Vollenweider, whose work I greatly appreciate, for the friendly permission to reproduce excerpts of his interview here. Meanwhile my text has also been published on The Untouchables . 


Hanno Vollenweider is editor-in-chief of Die Unbstechlichen and author of the book "Bankster - Where Milk and Honey Flow" (ISBN: 978-3938656372). 

Source: https://juergenfritz.com/