Did Facebook Bury Conservative News? Ex-Staffers Say yes.

Facebook is being accused of fiddling with its formulas to suppress conservative news.

That’s what some unnamed former Facebook contractors told the tech site Gizmodo—and it’s an accusation that strikes at the heart of the social network’s credibility.

Facebook relies on computer algorithms to determine what is “trending,” an influential designation that inevitably boosts traffic for what are deemed the hottest topics.

But unbeknownst to much of the public, Facebook hires journalists to tweak these formulas, and this is where the question of political bias has erupted.

Gizmodo reports that Facebook “routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers,” according to a former journalist who worked on the trending designations.

And several former Facebook “news curators” told the website that they were told to “inject” certain topics into the trending list, even if they weren’t popular enough to warrant making the crucial list.

Depending on who was on duty, said the unnamed conservative ex-curator, citing fear of retribution from the company, “things would be blacklisted or trending … I’d come on shift and I’d discover that CPAC or Mitt Romney or Glenn Beck or popular conservative topics wouldn’t be trending because either the curator didn’t recognize the news topic or it was like they had a bias against Ted Cruz.”

Facebook denies any political bias. A spokesperson said in a statement: “We take allegations of bias very seriously.

Facebook is a platform for people and perspectives from across the political spectrum.

Trending Topics shows you the popular topics and hashtags that are being talked about on Facebook.

There are rigorous guidelines in place for the review team to ensure consistency and neutrality. These guidelines do not permit the suppression of political perspectives.”

The Gizmodo account is based on interviews with a handful of ex-employees who chose to remain anonymous and could be pushing their own views.

Other former curators told Gizmodo they did not consciously make biased judgments on trending topics, and no one is alleging that Facebook management ordered such actions.

But as Facebook has mushroomed into a mighty media force, one that has content-sharing arrangements with major news organizations, Mark Zuckerberg has always cast his global operation as a neutral platform. If there is a cooking of the digital books that penalizes conservatives, Facebook could face a considerable backlash.

A former curator gave Gizmodo notes he had made of stories that were omitted from trending topics. These included the allegations that former IRS official Lois Lerner improperly scrutinized conservative groups, and stories involving Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the Drudge Report and Chris Kyle, the former Navy SEAL who was killed three years ago.

All this, said the unnamed curator, “had a chilling effect on conservative news.”

The sources also told Gizmodo that stories reported by such conservative-leaning news outlets as Breitbart, the Washington Examiner and Newsmax, which were trending enough to be picked up by Facebook’s algorithm, were excluded unless so-called mainstream sites like the New York Times, CNN and the BBC followed up on those stories.

Facebook’s political stance has been called into question during the presidential campaign.

Zuckerberg, the company’s founder and CEO, took an obvious shot at Donald Trump last month, saying: “I hear fearful voices calling for building walls and distancing people they label as ‘others.’ I hear them calling for blocking free expression, for slowing immigration, for reducing trade, and in some cases, even for cutting access to the Internet.” Zuckerberg has also signed a legal brief asking the Supreme Court to uphold President Obama’s executive action limiting deportation of illegal immigrants.

And in March, as part of a weekly internal poll, some Facebook employees asked Zuckerberg: “What responsibility does Facebook have to help prevent President Trump in 2017?”

That prompted a statement from Facebook: “We as a company are neutral — we have not and will not use our products in a way that attempts to influence how people vote.”

With more than 1 billion users worldwide, Facebook wields tremendous influence. The controversy over trending topics could cause some users to question whether the social site is subtly tampering with people’s news feeds to promote or minimize certain political stories or viewpoints.

1 reply
  1. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    ‘Reality has a left-wing bias,” our progressive friends love to tell conservatives. Then why are progressives so ruthless about distorting and covering up the truth?

    As we learned from a bombshell Gizmodo report, liberal elites conspire to hide dissenting viewpoints from the public. Stories that appear in Facebook’s hugely influential “trending” box, one of the most important news sources in the world, are subjected to an ideological-correctness test.

    Are Facebook users excited about the Conservative Political Action Conference? We can’t let that out. Are they upset about Lois Lerner? Bury it.

    Black Lives Matter has been unmasked as an Astroturf movement that was given more prominence than it earned, while we now know that stories that come from RedState or other conservative outlets are placed in a Facebook info quarantine until they’re cleared by the good doctors of the Mainstream Media, i.e. the propaganda arm of progressivism.

    Americans have long suspected the MSM isn’t playing it straight. “Reporters” who pose as nonideological beat writers — Dana Milbank of The Washington Post, Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times — later morph into fiercely opinionated columnists and are finally “revealed” to be hard-core leftists, as though we hadn’t guessed.

    The Internet seemed to offer a promising alternative. The gates to the printing presses were trampled down by the public. Now anyone could publish anything they chose, in front of the whole world.

    But the world will never know what you have to say if the techno-elites ignore you. Google, Twitter and Facebook could (if they wanted to) offer pure objectivity by using a dispassionate algorithm based on nothing but traffic numbers. Instead, all three have given the public excellent cause to believe they’re doing the opposite.

    Twitter hired a panel of liberal standards enforcers and began bouncing nonconformists, such as the outspoken right-wing blogger Robert Stacy McCain. Google has stated it’s considering whether to slant search results to give more prominence to what it “judges” to be true — which is exactly what progressive newspaper editors say they’re doing.

    If Facebook is really an open community, it shouldn’t have news curators at all, just a program that genuinely reflects what people are talking about.

    Why won’t they do that? Because shaping how the world thinks is too much fun to give it up.

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply