Image of Facebook's logo
Molly Butler / Media Matters

Timeline: The myriad ways Facebook has exploited users' trust and privacy for profit in recent years

Media Matters documented the last 19 months of Facebook's failures

Facebook has continuously manipulated the public with lies about data usage and repeatedly failed to respond to data breaches or correct its internal biases, according to Media Matters research spanning 19 months that compiled how the platform uses deception to further its agenda.

On July 29, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, along with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Cook, and Google’s Sundar Pichai, testified before the Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee of the House of Representatives “over concerns that they're becoming monopolies and abusing their power,” according to NPR. In addition to monopoly concerns, “lawmakers suggested Facebook is allowing proliferation of conspiracy theories, bogus information and hate because it's the type of content that keeps users engaged.” 

Facebook certainly has a lot to answer for in terms of its history of failing users: The site has allowed the spread of dangerous misinformation and hate speech while regularly violating expectations of privacy. Additionally, a recent BuzzFeed News article scrutinized the platform and the preferential treatment it gives to right-wing pages despite growing internal concerns.

In 2018, Media Matters cataloged Facebook’s multitude of failures in protecting its consumers since the company’s beginnings, including the Cambridge Analytica data breach and the October 2018 data breach that allowed hackers to “directly take over user accounts.” Below, Media Matters has gathered the damning evidence that Facebook has failed to learn its lesson since then.

  • Misinformation spread through Facebook communities and pages

    As Media Matters has documented in the past, Facebook has regularly struggled to notice and respond to large foreign spammer networks and sites posting fake news, such as YourNewsWire, that spread viral misinformation on the platform. As outlined below, late 2018 to 2020 saw several false claims spread on Facebook, including anti-vaccination content, misinformation surrounding the coronavirus, and content that runs contrary to scientific consensus on climate change.

     

    December 2018

    • On December 17, 2018, Brian Kolfage launched a GoFundMe page asking for $5 billion to fund President Donald Trump’s wall at the United States’ southern border. Within the span of three days, due to the widespread reach of right-wing clickbait articles from fake news-purveying outlets on Facebook shared by conservative figures, the campaign amassed $7 million. Though the platform had originally attempted to ban Kolfage’s fake news site Right Wing News for “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” the fundraiser page continued to be shared on other pages, such as Conservative Post and American Joe. Facebook further allowed these articles to be shared by right-wing media figures and pages with large followings, helping the fundraising page garner over 1.3 million interactions
    • In December 2018, Media Matters conducted a study showing how a hoax about the LGBTQ+ community accepting, and embracing, pedophiles went viral, with the help of Facebook. Though this false smear had been spread through right-wing groups and figures for years, it was only after a prominent right-wing outlet, The Daily Caller, posted a piece about it on Facebook in July 2018 that the story gained notable virality. By the time this study was released, the narrative had garnered over 875,000 Facebook impressions through various stories and posts. 

    March 2019

    October 2019

    • NBC News reported that anti-vaccination activists are still able to use Facebook fundraisers to pay for billboards filled with misinformation, "despite a platform-wide crackdown on such campaigns.”

    February 2020

    • As COVID-19 cases began to rise in the United States, an influx of misinformation about the coronavirus fueled by right-wing outlets made its way onto Facebook. These stories fed into racist and xenophobic narratives, while also paving the way for the spread of dangerous misinformation about the virus and its origins. Due to Facebook’s lack of accountability regarding fact-checking, pieces such as a New York Post article claiming that the virus was made in a lab by the Chinese government accumulated over 360,000 interactions. False stories like this were rampant at the start of the virus, and though measures have been taken to mitigate this problem since, there is still a stream of misinformation regarding the pandemic on the platform.

    May 2020

    • In May, Media Matters reported on the spread of a documentary-style film called Plandemic that contained multiple false claims about COVID-19 and public health. The film featured prominent anti-vaccination figures who pushed false narratives as a way of skewing public perception of the virus. Through Facebook alone, the video got over 16 million engagements. Facebook continued to approve ads for the video despite saying it would take them down, but eventually removed them:
    • Meanwhile, businesses on Facebook claimed that 5G, the fifth generation of mobile technology, could transmit and/or make individuals more susceptible to COVID-19. Media Matters found several businesses on Facebook linking the technology to the coronavirus in an effort to sell supposed 5G protection products. Facebook removed several of the posts following publication of the report.

    June 2020

    • A Media Matters report discussed how Facebook allows climate science deniers to thrive on its platform by claiming the information they portray to the public is “opinion”-based. Through this loophole, climate denial stories are able to avoid fact-checking. At the same time, right-wing outlets such as Fox News and The Washington Times are listed as “trusted” sources for Facebook News despite running false stories regarding climate change.

    July 2020

    • During the COVID-19 pandemic, Facebook had claimed it would remove any coronavirus-related misinformation that could “contribute to imminent physical harm.” However, as of July, Media Matters had found at least 55 Facebook groups dedicated to opposing the use of masks. These groups share harmful medical misinformation and conspiracy theories, such as claims that mask usage could cause the death of children or that masks can lead to carbon dioxide toxicity. Combined, these groups have amassed over 57,000 members.
    • In July, Twitter announced a major crackdown on accounts promoting the extremist QAnon conspiracy theory. Meanwhile, Facebook has allowed and profited off of at least 144 ads promoting the conspiracy theory in some manner for the past year and a half. Facebook claims action is forthcoming against QAnon content on the platform but has yet to do anything substantial as the conspiracy theory continues to spread. On August 7, Facebook finally took some action against the conspiracy theory by removing one of the largest QAnon groups from the platform. However, NBC News’ Brandy Zadrozny said a spokesperson for Facebook told her that “this Qanon group removal is a one-off.”
    • Media Matters showed in July 2020 that Facebook and YouTube have given prominent anti-vaccine figure Del Bigtree near-impunity on their platforms to spread dangerous medical misinformation about the novel coronavirus and the development of a vaccine for the COVID-19 disease. Facebook then removed three of Del Bigtree’s videos, but separate videos in which Bigtree encouraged people to intentionally contract COVID-19 and attacked mask-wearing with the same medical falsehoods are still available on Facebook.
  • Privacy and data violations were allowed or enabled by Facebook

    Facebook may have faced its biggest backlash due to multiple data breaches and privacy violations on the platform that affected millions of users. Facebook’s most notorious data privacy breach happened before the 2016 election, when data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica illegally obtained and exploited the Facebook data of 50 millions users in multiple countries. In addition, we learned in late 2018 that Facebook had allowed third-party tech companies to access users’ data, including giving the company the ability to read and delete private messages. Late 2018 to 2020 saw continued fallout from past data breaches and more information about how much data Facebook gathers on its users.

     

    November 2018

    • Facebook claimed that it has never sold any user’s data. Inherently, this is not possible. As an op-ed in The New York Times states, “Each time you click on a Facebook ad, Facebook sells data on you to that advertiser.” 

    January 2019

    • A study published by Pew Research Center in January 2019 showed that 74% of users did not know Facebook maintained a list of interests and traits of an individual’s profile, and 51% also said that they are not comfortable with Facebook compiling this information. 

    February 2019

    • In the final report of the U.K. Parliament’s 18-month investigation into disinformation and fake news, its Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee accused Facebook of deliberately hindering its case. Additionally, the committee denounced the platform’s failure in subduing Russian attempts to manipulate elections. 

    September 2019

    • A database which contained the phone numbers and personal information of over 400 million Facebook users across the U.S., the U.K., and Vietnam was exposed and publicized. According to The Verge, “Facebook confirmed the data was scraped from a server that stored it as part of a feature that let users look one another up by their phone numbers.”
  • Widespread hate speech continued on Facebook despite the platform’s hate speech policy

    Facebook’s policy regarding hate speech has drawn backlash due to its inconsistent and even negligent enforcement. In 2019, Media Matters wrote about CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying he supports “free expression” while also prohibiting discrimination -- presenting a false choice between free expression and censorship. While freedom of expression is a fundamental aspect of human rights, when the line crosses to include inflammatory, and even false, claims against individuals -- whether concerning their race, sexual orientation, gender, or religious beliefs, etc. -- the platform must act, which it promised its users it would do. However, early 2019 to mid-2020 saw a continued disregard of this policy.

     

    January 2019

    • A sexist smear against Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) claiming that her professional accomplishments were due to a past relationship with former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown grew in popularity late January 2019. A lurid Fox News article received over 97,000 interactions on Facebook. The story gained traction, and despite the platform’s “commitment” to combating hateful speech, an Infowars commentator went on a misogynistic rant about Harris on a Facebook livestream, sexualizing the senator by saying she “basically sucked and ducked her way to the top.” 

    March 2019

    • Anti-Muslim rhetoric thrives on Facebook, mostly through misinformative stories such as pieces claiming Muslims in Ramallah and Gaza celebrated the 9/11 attacks on the United States or that they have intentionally been spreading COVID-19 because “engaging in Civilization Jihad is the only hope Muslims have of maybe getting in to ‘heaven’.” Though the platform has taken steps to remove pages that spread this hate speech, Whitney Phillips, an assistant professor at Syracuse University who researches online harassment, said Facebook chooses to do so only “from a place of corporate ass-covering instead of a strong ideological position.”

    June 2019

    • Hundreds of law enforcement officials -- both active-duty and retired -- throughout the United States have found a home in “Confederate, anti-Islam, misogynistic or anti-government militia groups on Facebook,” a study by Reveal found.

    July 2019

    • In March 2019, Facebook announced its aim to transition to and invest more in private groups and messaging, with a huge marketing push in July 2019. This decision was met with skepticism due to discoveries of hate-filled private groups, such as one in which Border Patrol agents “joke about migrant deaths.” The reach of the platform, combined with its recommendation algorithm, helps these dangerous and hate-filled groups prosper.

    February 2020

    • An anti-Semitic Telegram channel created new Facebook accounts to further spread its hateful content. This channel is known for targeting Jews and, at the time, had attempted to name or mark multiple people for harassment. Facebook deleted the accounts within 48 hours of Media Matters originally flagging the page, stating, “We have removed this Page for violating our Community Standards.” This contradicts the platform’s initial review of the page.

    May 2020

    • Self-proclaimed “boogaloo boy” Aaron Swenson allegedly used Facebook Live to threaten the murder of a police officer. The boogaloo ideology falls under a widespread group of right-wing extremists who also call for violent uprisings against the federal government. By allowing the video to be livestreamed on the platform, Facebook continues to feed the proliferation of extremists and extremist groups.

    June 2020

    • Three men were arrested in Las Vegas for planning to attend a Black Lives Matter protest armed with Molotov cocktails. They intended to target police officials as a way of inciting violence. The men were all part of the “Nevada Boogaloo Facebook group.”
    • Facebook is reportedly attempting to ban pages associated with the “boogaloo” movement by prohibiting “the use of Boogaloo and related terms when they accompany pictures of weapons and calls to action, such as preparing for conflict.” However, The Washington Post reported that a research group found “nearly two dozen Facebook pages affiliated with the ‘boogaloo’ movement … that included explicit calls for armed violence as well as more borderline content such as anti-government memes employing euphemisms for violence.”

    July 2020

    • A loose network of Facebook pages has become the epicenter of mass misinformation regarding the Black Lives Matter protests, following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. These groups were originally created to organize protests in April over COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. As of July 2020, the groups have amassed over a combined 1 million users. Within these groups, there are a number of posts mocking the BLM movement as well as using profane slurs against Black people and the protesters.
    • Civil rights groups launched the #StopHateforProfit campaign which calls on businesses to pull Facebook ads in response to the platform’s failure to end hate speech and harassment targeted at Black users. The platform offered “the same old talking points” and intended to take “no real action” in response, the groups said, and this reaction comes after years of Facebook caving to right-wing pressure campaigns and offering them meaningful, tangible concessions. Several major companies eventually pulled their ads from the platform, and Facebook spending from major companies took a nosedive in July.
  • Lack of accountability

    Facebook has a history of resisting accountability, including for its inaction to prevent election interference, for data breaches on its platform, and for fostering an environment where radicalization and misinformation flourish. For example, Facebook would not allow researchers access to data to examine how misinformation spreads on the platform after the 2016 election and did a poor job preventing conspiracy theories from spreading about the Parkland school shooting in 2018. In 2019 and 2020, as detailed below, Facebook still struggled to respond to the proliferation of conspiracy theories, including around ethnic cleansing of the Muslim Rohingya population in Myanmar and about the coronavirus pandemic. In July, civil rights groups launched the #StopHateforProfit campaign to pressure companies to pull ads from Facebook because of the platform’s inability to respond to hate speech and dangerous misinformation.

     

    February 2019

    • Facebook announced in February that it had banned four groups as “dangerous organizations” for promoting violence against and ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya population in Myanmar. However, Vox reported that “some local human rights groups and critics are already objecting to Facebook’s choice of these groups, saying it’s arbitrary at best and harmful at worst.” In 2017 and 2018, Facebook had been criticized for being “too slow to respond to inflammatory posts” on its platform that incited violence against the Muslim minority group. In August 2020, Facebook “objected to a request from Gambia … to release posts and communications by members of Myanmar’s military and police.”
    • A February 2019 report from The Verge detailed accounts from “a dozen current and former employees” of a contractor called Cognizant that Facebook uses to moderate its content, who discussed the mental health issues they experience from having to see graphic and violent content. According to The Verge, the “employees can be fired for making just a few errors a week” and “team leaders micromanage content moderators’ every bathroom and prayer break.” The employees had all “signed non-disclosure agreements with Cognizant in which they pledged not to discuss their work for Facebook — or even acknowledge that Facebook is Cognizant’s client. … The secrecy also insulates Cognizant and Facebook from criticism about their working conditions," the moderators told the Verge. These contractors also make radically less money and have less freedom than a typical Facebook employee.

    April 2019

    • After Facebook launched a new policy against white supremacist content in March 2019, Media Matters found that a series of extremist pages were still up even though they include claims that “multiculturalism is genocide,” criticism of race mixing, and celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s killer.

    May 2019

    • Facebook announced on May 2, 2019, that various pages associated with Alex Jones’ conspiracy theory website Infowars would be “subject to the strictest ban” of its “policies against dangerous individuals and organizations” due to Jones’ record in circumventing social media bans. However, Media Matters identified a number of pages still up on Facebook, some of which were later removed.

    October 2019

    • During an October 23 House of Representatives Financial Services Committee hearing, Zuckerberg falsely claimed that an outside entity was responsible for deciding which organizations Facebook uses as fact-checkers. This was in response to a question about right-wing website The Daily Caller’s inclusion as a fact-checker despite its promotion of misinformation. Facebook does indeed decide who is included as a fact checker.

    January 2020

    • Gun sellers found a loophole in Facebook’s policy prohibiting firearm sales on the platform by advertising gun cases or boxes on Facebook Marketplace. Then, in the platform’s private messenger application, these sellers offered users complete firearms. Facebook has been aware of these practices since at least August 2019.

    April 2020

    • On April 2, Facebook hosted a virtual town hall with Fox News on the coronavirus pandemic. The event featured Mike Rowe, the former host of the television show Dirty Jobs, who had used Facebook to downplay the risks of COVID-19.
    • Facebook announced in April that it would remove events listed on Facebook that violated stay-at-home orders, but Media Matters identified many Facebook events -- as well as some pages and groups hosting events or featuring posts promoting events -- that were still live on the site.

    May 2020

    • A major report from The Wall Street Journal revealed that Facebook has known for years that it is fomenting political polarization -- and that its top executives refused to implement proposed solutions to stop it. Specifically, the report cites an internal Facebook presentation from 2016 which found that “64% of all extremist group joins are due to our recommendation tools”; the presentation stated bluntly that “our recommendation systems grow the problem.”

    June 2020

    • The Verge reported that while Facebook and other social media companies were “showing up” for racial injustice following the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer, the same platforms “were stunningly silent six years ago” following the killing of Michael Brown. For example, while Facebook’s Zuckerberg “committed to giving ‘additional $10 million to groups working on racial justice’” in 2020, the only public statement The Verge could find him making in 2014 was when he answered a question at a town hall about “social media’s role in helping strengthen communities in the wake of Ferguson and other protests against the use of excessive police force.”

    July 2020

    • An independent audit of Facebook’s treatment of civil rights was released in July, with CNN summarizing it by reporting that “Facebook continues to operate with glaring blind spots for hateful content and misinformation on the site and has made a number of decisions in the last year that ‘represent significant setbacks for civil rights.’” The New York Times reported that climate misinformation goes unchecked on Facebook because “under the company’s guidelines, climate content can be classified as opinion and therefore exempted from fact-checking procedures.” This leads to “peer-reviewed science … lumped into the same category as industry statements and even blatant disinformation.”
    • While Zuckerberg in July criticized the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, Trump’s messaging dominated top posts on the platform earlier this year, with Trump accounting for half of the 10 posts about COVID-19 with the most engagement from February through May.
  • Political bias and right-wing propaganda

    Facebook has often been the subject of political pressure from conservatives who claim that the platform regularly censors the speech of right-leaning figures and organizations, and the platform has repeatedly caved to their demands, but Media Matters has shown that the claims have no basis in reality. In 2018, Facebook submitted to an audit to examine these claims, and the results, released in 2019, show no evidence of conservative censorship. As of August 2020, internal discussions spanning back six months showed that the platform had “relaxed its rules” so right-wing outlets and figures were not disciplined for infringing on the company’s misinformation laws. In addition, Facebook has allowed the Trump campaign and associated groups to spread dangerous lies -- including about the coronavirus and voter fraud claims -- in political ads without much pushback.

     

    January 2019

    • The Wall Street Journal reported in January 2019 that Facebook relied on the advice of right-wing groups, including extremists like the virulently anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council, for advice on banning content.

    April 2019

    • A new study found that “Facebook’s ad delivery algorithm discriminates based on race and gender, even when advertisers are trying to reach a broad audience,” according to The Verge. For example, “Housing ads with a photograph of a white family, for instance, were apparently served to more white users than the same ad with a black family.”
    • Popular Information reported that the Trump campaign was using Facebook’s microtargeting features to “mislead and manipulate voters” with seemingly false testimonials. The report led to Facebook taking down the ads as violations of its ad policies. However, “Facebook also admitted that it was not manually reviewing political ads. Instead, it was relying on a computer algorithm.”
    • A Media Matters study in April 2019 of 395 political Facebook pages over a 37-week period showed that left-leaning pages and right-leaning pages are earning similar engagement. Right-wing media frequently claim that Facebook censors conservative content on its platform, and Facebook has largely caved to right-wing pressure campaigns to address these baseless claims.
    • In April 2019, Facebook added Check Your Fact, an entity associated with the right-wing media outlet Daily Caller, to its fact-checking program. The Daily Caller regularly pushes right-wing misinformation online.

    May 2019

    • A Media Matters study in May 2019 found that that right-wing sources dominated abortion-related news on Facebook, with anti-abortion misinformation also consistently outperforming all other coverage of abortion-related news. Facebook has largely failed to address abortion-related misinformation on its website -- in one instance, the platform capitulated to right-wing media pressure surrounding a fact check of an anti-abortion group’s post.

    August 2019

    • A Media Matters study in August 2019 found that Facebook allowed Trump’s Facebook page to run about 2,200 ads referring to immigration as an “invasion” between January and February of that year.
    • In August 2019, Media Matters showed that right-leaning pages on average earned more weekly interactions than left-leaning pages on Facebook over the course of a 20-week study -- debunking the right-wing media allegation that conservative content is disadvantaged or censored on the platform.
    • On August 20, 2019, Facebook bowed to conservative pressure when it published an interim report of its audit to address baseless allegations of conservative bias on the platform. The report resulted in Facebook changing a particular ad policy that benefited anti-abortion organizations that had been clamoring for the change.

    September 2019

    • An Axios report revealed that tech companies, including Facebook, were conducting outreach with conservatives and “trying to push hard on data showing that conservative voices often outperform liberal ones.”
    • According to Popular Information, Facebook was allowing a Ukrainian network to push “pro-Trump propaganda” on pages posing U.S.-run accounts, with one such page sharing “viral content that reaches more Facebook users than some of the largest media outlets in the United States.” Facebook took down the network after the report came out.
    • In September, Facebook confirmed that it treats the content of politicians differently from content of others on Facebook, unless the politicians’ content is “paid advertisements” or “speech that incites violence.” This enables politicians to spread misinformation on the platform with impunity.

    October 2019

    • In October, however, “Facebook quietly amended its policy on ‘misinformation’ in advertising, allowing it to accept nearly any from a politician.” Facebook clarified to Popular Information “that while ads from politicians and political parties are exempt from fact-checking, political ads by other entities are not exempt.”
    • Later in October, Fox News announced that Zuckerberg would sit for an exclusive interview with Fox News’ Dana Perino. The announcement came after reports that Zuckerberg has been secretly meeting with Republican politicians, white nationalists like Tucker Carlson, and other right-wing media figures.

    November 2019

    • In November, NBC News reported that Zuckerberg and board member Peter Thiel had dinner with Trump at the White House in October. The meeting was noteworthy because, among other things, it hadn’t previously been disclosed by either the White House or anyone at Facebook, and there’s no public record of what the trio discussed.
    • Facebook’s fact-checking service in the Netherlands quit “over a dispute regarding the social network’s policy to allow politicians to run ads containing misinformation,” according to The Verge.
    • A November 2019 report from Media Matters found that abortion opponents have been using Facebook to organize around pressuring municipalities to become “Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn” and ceremoniously but unenforceably ban abortion.

    January 2020

    • Despite Facebook’s policy that entities like super PACs cannot run ads that contain information debunked by their third-party fact-checkers, Popular Information reported that “Facebook is allowing a major pro-Trump Super PAC, the Committee to Defend the President, to run ads” that claim “former Vice President Joe Biden is ‘a criminal who used his power as Vice President to make him and his son RICH.’”
    • NBC News reported that Facebook had hired Jennifer Williams, a former senior producer on Fox & Friends, to head video strategy for Facebook News.

    February 2020

    • A February 2020 Washington Post report outlined the ways that Facebook has given in to Republican demands out of fear of angering conservatives and Trumpists.

    March 2020

    • A Media Matters study in March 2020 found that Facebook pages and groups were still spreading disinformation and fearmongering about the census, even though Facebook had removed Trump campaign ads the week before containing census-related disinformation.

    May 2020

    • Media Matters found that Facebook’s ad policy enabled Trump to use Facebook and Instagram ads to ramp up false allegations of voter fraud. Some of the Trump campaign’s ads that started running on both Facebook and Instagram on May 18 falsely claimed that the “Radical Left is trying to STEAL THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION OF OUR LIVES.” Media Matters identified at least 529 of these ads, and 267 of them -- more than half -- make various other false accusations against Democrats, including that they are “stuffing the ballot boxes with FAKE and FRAUDULENT votes.”
    • In a May 2020 interview with Fox News’ Dana Perino, Zuckerberg chided Twitter for its decision to add a fact check to one of Trump’s tweets containing an unhinged conspiracy theory about rampant voter fraud, claiming it was not something Facebook would do. Zuckerberg later doubled-down on his comments, telling CNBC, “I don’t think that Facebook or internet platforms, in general, should be arbiters of truth.”

    June 2020

    • In June 2020, a Media Matters study showed that right-wing talking points got the most engagement in Facebook posts about voting, including unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud and attacks on voting by mail.

    July 2020

    • Popular Information reported in July 2020 that Facebook agreed with an earlier report from Popular Information that the right-wing website The Daily Wire’s “undisclosed financial relationship” with “Mad World News, a notorious outlet that exploits fear and bigotry for profit” violated the platform’s rules. Facebook seems to have given the Daily Wire only a warning.
    • Media Matters found in July 2020 that Facebook was allowing a dishonest Trump super PAC ad against Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, claiming he was “caught on the record repeating the N-word, twice.”
    • Media Matters also found that Facebook allowed a digitally altered video to spread that purported to show Biden appearing at a dinner with a man in blackface.
    • A Media Matters study of interactions (reactions, comments, shares) on published online content about trans topics shared on Facebook found that right-leaning sources earned considerably higher engagement than all other sources combined.

    August 2020

    • Facebook fired an employee for collecting information on the platform’s bias toward right-wing pages, BuzzFeed News reported. The company and leadership’s tolerance of false information, many times due to external pressure from larger right-wing figures and news organizations, has caused internal unrest within its staff leading up to the 2020 presidential election.