A whistleblower at Pinterest revealed to Project Veritas that the service was actively censoring conservative views. The leaks came in the form of product code, Slack messages, and internal policies that enforced censorship of conservative terms and websites, which it added to a “porn domain blacklist.”
James O’Keefe says the documents “raise questions about whether or not these tech companies really operate like neutral platforms, as opposed to publishers with editorial agendas.”
The Pinterest insider revealed the San Francisco-based company has actively suppressed pro-life and Christian content on the website. The insider came forward to Project Veritas after discovering pro-life advocacy group LiveAction added to the blacklist.
Pinterest brands itself as a content-sharing platform designed to “help empower people to discover things that they love.”
Speaking to Project Veritas, the insider says the list was originally intended to curtail the spread of pornographic material. Any website on the list cannot be linked to in posts. The investigative outfit received a full list of websites blocked on Pinterest. It includes a variety of pornographic websites, and curiously–conservative publications.
Attempts to share content from these websites return an “inappropriate content” error message.
Following Project Veritas’ initial reveal, Pinterest removed LiveAction from its “Porn Domain Blacklist.” However, it suspended the organization’s account hours later.
The company’s Public Policy and Social Impact manager instructed employees to keep an eye out for “white supremacist” content, listing Ben Shapiro and Candace Owens
The insider explained that the person responsible for adding some of these websites to the censorship list was a member of Pinterest’s Trust and Safety team. He identified the person responsible. Project Veritas was issued a 12-hour suspension on Twitter for sharing the article for violating the platform’s “rules against posting private information.” YouTube also removed the organization’s video on the subject.
In addition to the list, Project Veritas received screenshots from internal Slack chats detailing the company’s agenda. The company’s Public Policy and Social Impact manager instructed employees to keep an eye out for “white supremacist” content, listing Ben Shapiro and Candace Owens as figures of note. Pinterest added terms like “ben shapiro muslim” and “ben shapiro islam” to its “Sensitive Terms List,” which stops specific phrases from showing up in search results.
The two terms stand alongside other conservative-oriented terms, including “bible journaling ideas,” “christian easter,” and “christian tattoos,” all of which are listed as brand unsafe. This prevents the affected terms from showing up in the recommended and trending queries. These terms will also never appear as push or email notifications.
The insider provided Project Veritas an internal memo called “A/C Privileged: Conspiracy Doc,” which lists conspiracy theories the company monitors for censorship. The document, which is available on Project Veritas, includes a listing for “David Daleiden/Planned Parenthood,” which refers to an undercover investigation by anti-abortion activists that prompted the organization to take legal action against Daleiden.
James O’Keefe says that the Pinterest insider has been fired.
BREAKING NEWS: Pinterest has fired the insider we featured in today's report. His actions, despite the risks, spoke volumes. Soon, we launch part 2. @Pinterest, stay tuned. #LifeCensored @LiveAction More updates coming: https://t.co/Ewsu9XuJE0 pic.twitter.com/t0tCagggXx
— James O'Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII) June 11, 2019
Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe says the documents “raise questions about whether or not these tech companies really operate like neutral platforms, as opposed to publishers with editorial agendas.”
When reached for comment, Pinterest told Project Veritas:
“Religious content is allowed on Pinterest, and many people use our service to search for and save Pins inspired by their beliefs. To protect our users from being targeted based on personal characteristics such as their religion, we have policies in place so that ads and recommendations don’t appear alongside certain terms.”
Ian Miles Cheong is the managing editor of Human Events