Facebook chose to keep Breitbart on News Tab and gave it special treatment – even after employees warned of its embellished and hyper-partisan coverage of events like the George Floyd protests

Mark Zuckerberg's headshot placed over a green background with Hawaiian leaves flowing through the top and bottom of the frame
  • Facebook decided to keep Breitbart news about the George Floyd protests on its News Tab feature, the WSJ reports.
  • Facebook did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment about why it kept the hyper-partisan, Right-wing outlet in its News Tab.
  • 17 news organizations are prepped to drop new coverage about the company on Monday, which will be called the “Facebook Papers.”

“Get Breitbart out of News Tab.”

Facebook didn’t heed this message, which an employee posted on the company’s racial-justice chat board in June 2020 following video of a Black man, George Floyd, being killed by a police officer, according to internal documents from a whistleblower provided to the Wall Street Journal.

After Floyd’s murder, massive Black Lives Matter protests swept the country with millions of people calling for attention to issues of racial justice and excessive force by police. But, the social media giant chose to keep problematic content about the protests from Right-wing outlet Breitbart – popular with former President Donald Trump’s supporters – on its News Tab, despite objections for its employees, the Journal reports. The News Tab aggregates and promotes articles on its platform from various outlets, and is curated specifically by Facebook.

The anonymous Facebook employee posted screenshots of the Breitbart headlines, like “Minneapolis Mayhem: Riots in Masks,” and “Massive Looting, Building in Flames, Bonfires!” in the message board reviewed by the Wall Street Journal. The employee went on to write these were examples of a “concerted effort at Breitbart and similarly hyper-partisan sources (none of which belong in News Tab) to paint Black Americans and Black-led movements in a very negative way,” according to documents seen by the Wall Street Journal.

The allegations against Facebook are the latest in the Wall Street Journal’s “Facebook Files.”

Earlier this month, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen said that though CEO Mark Zuckerberg “never set out to make a hateful platform,” the company has not adequately addressed hate on the platform and makes decisions in its own interests rather than that of the public.

Facebook has repeatedly pushed back against the accusations leveled in the Facebook Files that it turns a blind eye to hate and misinformation and has allowed illegal conduct, including drug deals, human trafficking and cartel activity, to go unchecked.

“To suggest we encourage bad content and do nothing is just not true,” Director of of Policy Communications Lena Pietsch previously told Insider.

The George Floyd message seen by the Wall Street Journal also revealed that a Facebook researcher said any steps to remove Breitbart content from the platform could face obstacles internally due to potential political blowback. A Facebook spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal that the company makes judgment calls based on the content published on Facebook, not Breitbart as a whole, and that this specific content met Facebook’s requirements for rules against misinformation and hate speech.

A representative from Facebook has not yet responded to Insider’s request for comment.

Another whistleblower also came forward earlier this week saying that Facebook’s Public Policy team defended “whitelisting”Breitbart, to avoid a fight with Trump Republicans and Steve Bannon. Facebook has also repeatedly exempted the Trump’s family and its allies from its misinformation rules to avoid being seen as biased against conservatives.

The company announced in March that it would stop promoting certain Facebook groups that peddle misinformation and hate to users’ feeds – part of Facebook’s decision in January to stop recommending civic and political groups to US users.

Besides this latest “Facebook Files” entry, the company is expected to face more knock back when on Monday, 17 news organizations, including the Associated Press, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, NBC News, and Bloomberg are expected to drop their own Facebook-related coverage, the “Facebook Papers.”