In a startling revelation, Gizmodo reported Monday that a journalist who once worked at Facebook admitted the company routinely censored and suppressed conservative news while suppressing news about Facebook itself, ensuring those items never made it to the site’s “trending” news section.
According to Gizmodo:
Facebook workers routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network’s influential “trending” news section, according to a former journalist who worked on the project. This individual says that workers prevented stories about the right-wing CPAC gathering, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and other conservative topics from appearing in the highly-influential section, even though they were organically trending among the site’s users.
It gets worse, however. Gizmodo said that these “news curators,” as they were called, were told to “artificially ‘inject’ selected stories into the trending news module, even if they weren’t popular enough to warrant inclusion—or in some cases weren’t trending at all.”
These curators were also reportedly ordered not to inject stories about Facebook itself.
“In other words,” Gizmodo added, “Facebook’s news section operates like a traditional newsroom, reflecting the biases of its workers and the institutional imperatives of the corporation. Imposing human editorial values onto the lists of topics an algorithm spits out is by no means a bad thing—but it is in stark contrast to the company’s claims that the trending module simply lists ‘topics that have recently become popular on Facebook.’”
Of course, this comes as no surprise to those of us who have argued for some time that Facebook is censoring certain topics.
The former curator happens to be conservative and remained anonymous fearing reprisals from Facebook, Gizmodo added.
“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,” the curator said.
As a result, the curator began a running log of the bias and found a disturbing trend.
According to Gizmodo, these were just a few of the topics Facebook censored:
“Among the deep-sixed or suppressed topics on the list: former IRS official Lois Lerner, who was accused by Republicans of inappropriately scrutinizing conservative groups; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; popular conservative news aggregator the Drudge Report; Chris Kyle, the former Navy SEAL who was murdered in 2013; and former Fox News contributor Steven Crowder.”
Moreover, even though some stories by conservative sites deserved to be listed as trending, they were often suppressed until a liberal news outlet reported them.
“It was absolutely bias. We were doing it subjectively. It just depends on who the curator is and what time of day it is,” said another former curator. “Every once in awhile a Red State or conservative news source would have a story. But we would have to go and find the same story from a more neutral outlet that wasn’t as biased.”
Here’s a video of the report, courtesy of Gizmodo:
Meanwhile, Facebook wants you to think they’re being neutral…
As a final note, I, along with Adina Kutnicki, an investigative journalist based in Israel, are putting the finishing touches on a book about Facebook that is tentatively set to be published sometime this fall. That book will cover this topic, along with a number of others, while revealing what Facebook actually enables.
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