Leaked Facebook research shows how the company 'literally helped facilitate a cult': report
Photo via Olivier Touron/AFP

Leaked Facebook research obtained by NBC News reveals how the company's algorithms would flood ordinary conservatives' pages with extremist content and make it easier for them to get indoctrinated by QAnon.

According to NBC, researchers at the company created a dummy Facebook profile of a conservative mother who liked both Fox News and conservative broadcaster Sinclair.

What they found was that the account's page within days was stuffed full of recommendations for QAnon pages that warned her Democrats were not merely people she disagreed with, but a vast Satanic pedophile ring.

"The body of research consistently found Facebook pushed some users into 'rabbit holes,' increasingly narrow echo-chambers where violent conspiracy theories thrived," writes NBC. "People radicalized through these rabbit holes make up a small slice of total users, but at Facebook's scale, that can mean millions of individuals."

What makes this experiment particularly interesting is that Facebook pushed these pages to users even though they explicitly violated the company's policies against published hate speech and disinformation, suggesting that the platform's algorithms were designed to push user engagement over everything else.

""These documents effectively confirm what outside researchers were saying for years prior, which was often dismissed by Facebook," Renée DiResta, technical research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory, tells NBC News. "Facebook literally helped facilitate a cult."

Read the whole report here.