Facebook removed a fact-checking strike against Donald Trump Jr. in late 2019 out of fear of backlash, two former employees told The Washington Post on Monday.
If the strike remained against Trump Jr., he would have been considered a repeat offender and could have been subjected to penalties like reduced traffic and a demotion in search, according to the Post.
Andrea Vallone, a spokesperson for Facebook, did not deny that the company removed the strike and told the Post that the company is “responsible for how we apply enforcement.”
“As a matter of diligence, we will not apply a penalty in rare cases when the rating was not appropriate or warranted under the program’s established guidelines,” Vallone said.
Representatives for Facebook did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for additional comment.
Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that when Facebook adjusted its newsfeed algorithm in 2017 to reduce the presence of political news, executives were concerned that the changes would disproportionately affect right-wing sites like the Daily Wire. As a result, engineers redesigned the algorithmic changes so that left-leaning sites like Mother Jones would be impacted more than previously planned.
At the time, a Facebook spokesperson told the Journal, “We did not make changes with the intent of impacting individual publishers.”