Facebook Security Chief Lashes Out: "Censorship Is Easy If You Don't Worry About Becoming The Ministry Of Truth"

In a furious tweetstorm this weekend, Facebook's Chief Security Officer warned interfering desperate politicians and triggered letfists that the fake news problem is more complicated and dangerous to solve than the public thinks.

As a reminder, we noted that Alex Stamos was seemingly pressured into 'finding' Russian evidence after Senator Mark Warner paid the social media company a visit -

A few weeks after the French election, Warner flew out to California to visit Facebook in person. It was an opportunity for the senator to press Stamos directly on whether the Russians had used the company’s tools to disseminate anti-Clinton ads to key districts.


Officials said Stamos underlined to Warner the magnitude of the challenge Facebook faced policing political content that looked legitimate.


Stamos told Warner that Facebook had found no accounts that used advertising but agreed with the senator that some probably existed. The difficulty for Facebook was finding them.


For months, a team of engineers at Facebook had been searching through accounts, looking for signs that they were set up by operatives working on behalf of the Kremlin. The task was immense.


Warner’s visit spurred the company to make some changes in how it conducted its internal investigation. Instead of searching through impossibly large batches of data, Facebook decided to focus on a subset of political ads.


Technicians then searched for “indicators” that would link those ads to Russia. To narrow down the search further, Facebook zeroed in on a Russian entity known as the Internet Research Agency, which had been publicly identified as a troll farm.


“They worked backwards,” a U.S. official said of the process at Facebook.


The breakthrough moment came just days after a Facebook spokesman on July 20 told CNN that “we have seen no evidence that Russian actors bought ads on Facebook in connection with the election.”

And the rest is history as 3000 "Russian Ads" were suddenly discovered to enable Warner to keep the narrative alive - and more crucially demand social media companies crackdown on 'fake news', on politically-sponsored and divisive ads, and on anything they decide is not really fitting their identity-politics-based narratives.

However, given this weekend's tweetstorm by Stamos, we suspect he has finally snapped and been forced to shove some common sense down the throats of the vengeful politicians who see no unintended consequences in their demands for big-brother-esque newspeak. 

"It’s very difficult to spot fake news and propaganda using just computer programs," Stamos said in a series of Twitter posts on Saturday.


“Nobody of substance at the big companies thinks of algorithms as neutral,” Stamos wrote, adding that the media is simplifying the matter.


“Nobody is not aware of the risks.”



As Bloomberg reports, the easy technical solutions would boil down to silencing topics that Facebook is aware are being spread by bots -- which should only be done “if you don’t worry about becoming the Ministry of Truth” with machine learning systems “trained on your personal biases,” he said.

“A lot of people aren’t thinking hard about the world they are asking [Silicon Valley] to build,” Stamos wrote.


“When the gods wish to punish us they answer our prayers.”

Stamos’s comments shed light on why Facebook added 1,000 more people review its advertising, rather than attempting an automated solution.

The company sent a note to advertisers telling them it would start to manually review ads targeted to people based on politics, religion, ethnicity or social issues. The company is trying to figure out how to monitor use of its system without censoring ideas, after the Russian government used fake accounts to spread political discord in the U.S. ahead of the election.

The silver lining at least is that Stamos is aware of what a terrible idea the kind of censorship that Democratic politicians (and John McCain) are demanding... whether this means that, behind the smoke and mirrors of actively managing your news feed to provide you with your self-bias-perpetuating perspective, anything will change, is anyone's guess.


MillionDollarBonus_ Captain Chlamydia Mon, 10/09/2017 - 04:45 Permalink

Goerge Orwell was warning us about RIGHT WING BIGOTS, not friendly progressives! For goodness sake, right wing practically MEANS bad and evil! You cannot "cencor" Nazis. Censorship is a word that only applies to left wing activists like the Hollywood stars who supported communism during the 1970s!Zero Hedge’s Tyler Durden Outed as a Russian Agent

In reply to by Captain Chlamydia

Aussiekiwi MillionDollarBonus_ Mon, 10/09/2017 - 05:00 Permalink

'Censorship is a word that only applies to left wing activists like the Hollywood stars who supported communism during the 1970s!' Really, what weird school did you go to? for your edification below is the definition of censorship, you will notice there is no mention of Hollywood stars supporting communism.   Censorship is the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information that may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect or inconvenient as determined by governments, media outlets, authorities or other groups or institutions.[1]  

In reply to by MillionDollarBonus_

Xredsx zimboe Mon, 10/09/2017 - 04:54 Permalink

Censorship is only designed to shield you from the truth and it doesnt actually alt our reality. But Truth does become only memories with time, until all there is left of the truth, is some little information and misquotations. Eventually the truth is lost to time. Honestly, with enough time, common sense becomes ancient wisdom....  But the days when a population and its collective media depended on its own government for  information is OVER.

In reply to by zimboe

Neochrome Mon, 10/09/2017 - 04:37 Permalink

"Rules and laws are for suckers." - H. Clinton.Yeah, let's have a society where a ruling class imposes their brain washing laws and regulations on population, while being them selves above those laws.Do you ever wonder why FBI doesn't do it's job and grills "law makers" about all the investment and other crimes that are obvious even to a casual observer?

Aussiekiwi Mon, 10/09/2017 - 04:39 Permalink

Alex Stamos, I like him, he seems non political and understands the issues that censorship can create, so that makes him a thousand times brighter than the average Politician just there, who understand where their campaign contributions come from and very little else about anything.I would not be surprised if the average Politician thinks there are little men at Internet companies manually looking up their google requests.

otschelnik Mon, 10/09/2017 - 04:51 Permalink

Reminded when 7 democratic senators wrote letters to pressure Lois Lerner /IRS to shut down tax free status for tea party groups.   This pressure from Senator Warner to reinflate the dying Russian narrative is more of the same deep state bullshit. 

GreatUncle Mon, 10/09/2017 - 04:59 Permalink

They must suppress the truth otherwise the population will hang them for their criminality.Was always going to be the case because of all that was learned and should never have been known during the election. 

NoPension Mon, 10/09/2017 - 05:03 Permalink

No way in hell the American populace put Trump in office. It had to be a subversive mission, operated by top class Russian operatives, to manipulate the election.

And we are going to prove it. ( or at least figure out how " they " did it, so we can in the future)

What a bunch of nitwits.

BTW, I don't know if I like this guy or not..but the bullshit seems to be getting under his skin.

Dude-dude Mon, 10/09/2017 - 05:03 Permalink

"The company is trying to figure out how to monitor use of its system without censoring ideas, after the Russian government used fake accounts to spread political discord in the U.S. ahead of the election." Go Russia Go!   Dumb ass.

Tsipras the Great Mon, 10/09/2017 - 05:21 Permalink

How many times will they do the same thing? How did they get programmed to, your following? Everyone's locked up in their suffering The only way you can tell is reconsider everything What if the truth is that there is no truth The only thing I can prove is there is no proof Don't be so sure that your source is correct People believed it before, before they had checked How many times can they tell you Til you just give them their way How many times can sell you Til you let them have their say Every time you will ignore your Heart it will come back twice more Never deny your own instinct Reconsider Everything Everybody want something they control Some just want grass some they want gold Either way does it feel good or feel low Taking you down not fast but real slow Rebellion done for it's own sake Does not a true free thinker make To go against for it's own sake You're still controlled by the course that the other man takes Reconsider everything, reconsider everything Reconsider everything, reconsider everything Reconsider everything, reconsider everything Reconsider everything

css1971 Mon, 10/09/2017 - 05:25 Permalink

It is easy.Bayesian statistics can spot spam with 95% or so accuracy. => You can easily stop virtually all messages containing a viewpoint which you don't like. Just train the stats on your personal Liberal/Conservative spam folder.BAM! You silence all opposing political viewpoints. And that's exactly what they want to happen. The Truth, on the other hand... Well we have 2000 years of philosophy discussing what that's all about, and 800 years of methodology on how to try to find it.

Umh css1971 Mon, 10/09/2017 - 07:39 Permalink

95% accuracy is useless. The idea of having a junk mail folder is absurd unless accuracy is 99.99% or better. I have to check my junk mail folder provided by M$ routinely to retrieve legitimate email they have kept out of my inbox. This takes more time and resources than just letting it flow into my inbox. I can spot spam readily usually without even looking past the subject line.

In reply to by css1971

TheEndIsNear Mon, 10/09/2017 - 07:54 Permalink

Why does Fuckbooks "Security Officer" think that "fake news" is something that needs to be "solved" by him or anyone else? Publish everything anyone wants to say. If it is libelous the fake news publisher will be punished by a court of law, ...well at least in theory. There are technical solutions to bots.

A "self-bias-perpetuating perspective" doesn't sound all that bad. It's the way I found ZeroHedge. Maybe Doug Casey's "Phyles", which are based upon a well known classic science fiction book whose name nor author I can remember at the moment wrote about in the fictional computer world where people plugged their brains into a future Internet. The name of the book is the word for static on an old style analog television set. I'll give a green up-arrow to anyone who remembers the name of the book, haha.

Physically we cannot be among others of "our own kind", but the Internet makes it possible for us to at least communicate with each other.

I encounter opposing viewpoints quite often, in fact almost everywhere except here on ZH and a handful of other websites.

Edit to add: "Snow Crash" by Neal Stephenson

bjax Mon, 10/09/2017 - 06:14 Permalink

Trump is Russian, it's so obvious. He was planted as a child and has now been activated. Russia is going to control the whole world, but worse, they have plans to invade the Universe !! yes the Universe !! Even as I type [ though the tippy tappy noises could be the Chinese tunneling underground ] Russia is preparing to bring down mars, with just a few carefully placed Facebook ads ... go Russia.

ItsAllBollocks Mon, 10/09/2017 - 06:18 Permalink

no no, I think it's a wonderful idea. Look at the bigger picture for a moment. Eliminating fake news from the web means no more MSM, no more Las Vagas shittings, no more US wars of agression, no more....

CRM114 Mon, 10/09/2017 - 06:22 Permalink

..if You Don't Worry About Becoming The Ministry Of Truth" Is 'e bovvered? He doesn't look bovvered. Does 'e look bovvered to you?

Last of the Mi… Mon, 10/09/2017 - 06:59 Permalink

Facebook Security Chief Lashes Out: "Censorship Is Easy If You Don't Worry About Becoming The Ministry Of Truth" I would imagine when your sole corporate objective is to BECOME the ministry of truth. Fb is life for dummies. They will gladly run your life, complete with rules, regulations, belief systems, and any sort of individual thought process, FOR FREE!!!