Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has reportedly admitted that a tool is used to keep track of user behavior online during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday. Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley confronted Zuckerberg where he questioned him about two internal tools, brought to his attention by a Facebook whistleblower. The tools called Tasks and Centra are used to coordinate censorship with Twitter and Google and monitor Facebook user activity across the internet, respectively.
After the questioning of the hearing titled, Breaking the News: Censorship, Suppression, and the 2020 Election on Facebook and Twitter’s content moderation practices, Hawley on Twitter wrote, “Zuckerberg admits @Facebook DOES have ‘tools’ to track its users across the internet, across platforms, across accounts – all without user knowledge. I ask how many times this tool has been used domestically against Americans. Zuck won’t say.” He then attached a screenshot of the internal tool.
Zuckerberg, however, did not confirm “whether Facebook ever uses Centra to track and monitor American citizens.” Hawley further noted, “Mark Zuckerberg under oath to me today: I don’t know, I can’t recall, I don’t remember, I’ll follow up later, let me get back to you.”
“Centra is a tool that Facebook uses to track its users, not just on Facebook but across the entire internet. Centra tracks different profiles that a user visits, their message recipients, their linked accounts, the pages they visit around the web that have Facebook buttons,” The Washington Examiner quoted Hawley. “Centra also uses behavioral data to monitor users’ accounts, even if those accounts are registered under a different name.”
Speaking further on co-ordinated content moderation, Hawley said that Facebook uses internal tool Tasks to manage content moderation.
Hawley cited the whistleblower who told him that Facebook co-ordinates censorship topics with Twitter and Google and lists them on Tasks. Zuckerberg denied saying that there was no coordination with other companies for content moderation. He, however, said that it was pretty normal for Facebook employees to communicate with their peers at other tech companies. “We do coordinate on, and share signals on, security-related topics,” Zuckerberg said, citing terrorism, images of child exploitation, and foreign election interference. However, he said that was distinct from content moderation.
Hawley on Twitter wrote: “Ever wonder how a user banned or locked on one platform often gets quickly banned or locked on the others? This is how. @Facebook whistleblower tells me FB uses its internal project management system, ‘Tasks,’ to coordinate censorship with @Twitter and @Google. Whistleblower says @Twitter and @Google routinely suggest censorship topics – hashtags, individuals, websites, many of them conservative – and @Facebook logs them for follow-up on Tasks. But Zuck REFUSES under oath to turn over a list of @Twitter or @Google mentions on Tasks.”