June 26, 2019

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Tech Insider Blows Whistle on How Pinterest Listed Top Pro-Life Site as Porn, “Bible Verses” Censored

Jun 12, 2019 | ,

By Project Veritas

 Insider: Search Term “Christian” Won’t Auto-Complete, Others Can’t Trend, No Notifications, or Recommendations
 Pinterest Blacklisted Pro-Life Group LiveAction.org, Classified as “Pornography,” Cannot Link to Site
 Leaked “Sensitive Terms List” Includes “bible verses” and “christian easter”
 Ben Shapiro Commentary Censored in “zero tolerance moment,” Slack Messages Reveal
 Planned Parenthood Undercover Videos Marked as “harmful” Conspiracy
 Veritas Calls On More Silicon Valley Insiders to Come Forward
UPDATE 1: Pinterest REACTS. LiveAction.org is no longer on their “Porn Domain Blacklist”
UPDATE 2: Pinterest REACTS AGAIN. LiveAction’s Pinterest Account has been permanently suspended.
UPDATE 3: A Pinterest spokesperson has provided a statement in response to our request for comment: “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.” 


See some of the leaked documents (some are redacted):

Packet 1 Packet 2 Packet 3
Packet 4 Packet 5 Packet 6

(San Francisco) Project Veritas has received and published documents from an insider at Pinterest. The documents, which include product code, Slack messages, and internal policies, reveal terms and websites that Pinterest apparently censors.

In an interview, the Pinterest insider who leaked the documents explains how the company censors pro-life and Christian content on the website.

(Do you work in Big Tech? Project Veritas would love to hear from you.)

Said Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe:

“The documents we obtained raise questions about whether or not these tech companies really operate like neutral platforms, as opposed to publishers with editorial agendas.” 

Pinterest is a publicly-traded social media company headquartered in San Francisco that has nearly 300 million active monthly users. In the past, Project Veritas released undercover footage of Twitter employees discussing “shadow-banning,” and also published leaked documents from Facebook which revealed plans to target and demote conservative commentary.

“Somebody happened to notice that LiveAction.org was blocked…”
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  • gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== Tech Insider Blows Whistle on How Pinterest Listed Top Pro-Life Site as Porn, “Bible Verses” Censored [your]NEWS

“I was pretty surprised,” said the Pinterest insider in an interview, when s/he discovered that pro-life group LiveAction.org was added to a “porn domain block list.” The insider explained that the “block list” was intended to be  a collection of pornographic websites that Pinterest uses in order ensure that pornography cannot be posted. LiveAction.org is not a pornographic website, instead it is the web domain of a prominent pro-life advocacy group.

The insider explained that websites on a “domain block list” cannot be linked in posts made by users. While investigating, Project Veritas tried to post the LiveAction.org link on Pinterest and failed to do so, receiving an error message that read, “Sorry! Your request could not be completed.” Project Veritas reviewed the list of websites from the “porn domain block list” and was able to confirm that along with LiveAction.org, websites like zerohedge.com, pjmedia.com, teaparty.org and other various conservative websites were also listed. The majority of the document lists pornographic websites.

Lila Rose, the founder and president of LiveAction claims that her organization has been censored in the past, and believes that pro-life organizations are unfairly targeted by social media companies:

“Pinterest says that their mission is to ‘help empower people to discover things that they love,’ but despite the fact that millions of people love babies and the pro-life cause, they are secretly censoring our life-affirming messages. Pinterest users deserve to know the truth and our messages deserve to be treated fairly.”

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Another document Project Veritas reviewed shows code that reads, “mem add [‘liveaction.org’].” The insider explains that this code, which according to the document was committed to the “porn domain block list” on February 13th, 2019, added LiveAction.org to the block list. The code was apparently committed by Megan McClellan who works on Pinterest’s Trust and Safety team.

On May 29th, 2019, Ginet Girmay, a Pinterest employee on the company’s Trust and Safety team, discusses LiveAction.org’s inclusion on the “porn domain block list.” Girmay says “I do not think [LiveAction.org] should be removed…” even though Pinterest “is not currently removing pro-life/pro-choice content.”

“‘Christian’ is being blocked from the auto-complete.”

Project Veritas also received a large text file titled “Sensitive Terms List.” The insider said the file contains search terms that Pinterest considers

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“[B]ible verses” appears in the “Sensitive Terms List,” which impacts how the auto-complete function works when one tries to search for the term.

“sensitive,” and that the terms are modified in search results according to different value assignments. According to the insider and supporting documents, terms are assigned an “abusive,” “sensitive,” and “brand unsafe” value.

Some of the actions that can be taken on search terms include: blocking auto-complete results in the search bar, providing an advisory message when a term is searched for, removing the term from recommended or trending feeds, and blocking email or push notifications. Search results are also modified based on the values that are applied to terms.

Project Veritas reviewed the “Sensitive Terms List” and discovered that Christianity-related terms like “christian easter” and “bible verses” were marked as “brand unsafe.” The insider explained to Project Veritas in an interview that such terms are removed from auto-complete search results.

 (Similar documents from big tech companies can be sent to Project Veritas here.)
“This was actually in a war-room where policymakers were making decisions about content…”

Another document Project Veritas received was a screenshot from an internal Slack channel at Pinterest, where Public Policy and Social Impact Manager Ifeoma Ozoma instructed others to monitor the platform for “white supremacist” content from individuals like conservative commentators Ben Shapiro and Candace Owens. Three days after Ozoma’s message, the terms “ben shapiro muslim” and “ben shapiro islam” were added to the “Sensitive Terms List.”

  • gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== Tech Insider Blows Whistle on How Pinterest Listed Top Pro-Life Site as Porn, “Bible Verses” Censored [your]NEWS

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The insider explained to Project Veritas that in addition to removing content it wants to censor, Pinterest also “hides” materials from users on their home screens and search results. The insider added that there is also “silent removing,” which means the content is removed but there is no notice to the account who posted the material that it was removed.

“They consider it to be worse than ‘Flat-Earth’…”

In a document titled “A/C Privileged: Conspiracy Doc,” which the insider said lists various conspiracy theories that Pinterest monitors, Project Veritas noticed the listing of “David Daleiden/Planned Parenthood.” The description of the item reads, “Undercover at planned parenthood to ‘expose’ their sale of fetal remains.” The insider believes the record refers to the undercover video investigation conducted by David Daleiden which allegedly shows Planned Parenthood executives discussing the sale of fetal tissue for profit. Those undercover videos prompted various investigations and legal actions across the country. The Pinterest insider explained that the company removes conspiratorial content that they deem to be “harmful” from the platform.

 

“One person can make all the difference”

Said the insider:

“I think when public policies don’t match with how social media companies are actually implementing them, people have a right to know, people have a right to that transparency. And the thing is one person can make all the difference… one person can bring transparency to big tech.”

Project Veritas intends to continue investigating abuses in big tech companies and encourages more Silicon Valley insiders to share their stories through their Be Brave campaign.

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