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Former Facebook employees confirm: FB regularly suppresses 'trending' conservative news
Surprised? Not really.
I know what you're thinking. "There are people who get their daily news from social postings on Facebook?" Sadly, the answer to that is yes. At any given moment there are over 150 million users roaming Mark Zuckerberg's monstrosity, and you can bet that some percentage of them rarely read anything outside the online utopia. So, while we may not like to admit it, the "trending" section at the upper right of the page has become frighteningly important.
Facebook swears that it determines what's "trending" by analyzing reader preference. If it's popular on the site - meaning it's being read and shared by enough people - it will show up in the "trending module." That would be nice, but we all know Mark Zuckerberg's political leanings. Conservatives have long doubted that the trends were as organic as the company claimed.
Now, a former Facebook employee has come forward to admit that not only does the company have people manipulating which stories you see; it actively suppresses political speech from sources it doesn't like.
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.
Several former Facebook “news curators,” as they were known internally, also told Gizmodo that they were instructed 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.
The anonymous former employee created lists of buried-but-trending stories, while others stated that certain sites and personalities were barred from the trending module due to Facebook's anti-conservative bias. Among the topics is a litany of familiar news items we've covered over the last few years...
The former curator was so troubled by the omissions that they kept a running log of them at the time; this individual provided the notes to Gizmodo. 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. “I believe it had a chilling effect on conservative news,” the former curator said.
Another former curator agreed that the operation had an aversion to right-wing news sources. “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 the 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.”
None of this is particularly surprising. If you work as a writer, or behind the scenes at a website, you watch your traffic numbers and you start to notice things that tip you off. Spikes and lulls in traffic come with the territory, but every so often you can just tell: Something's not quite right here.
Given the left-leaning nature of the Facebook top brass, no one should be shocked that they handle conservative stories just like any mainstream media newsroom in the country. In other words, if the story doesn't fit the agenda and the narrative of the people running the show, it's buried.
Frankly, it's their prerogative to do so.
Facebook is Zuckerberg's baby. He and his team can run it any way they see fit. It's free, and we all use it of our own volition. If some computer-savvy conservatives want to start their own social media network to compete, they should do exactly that. However, if Facebook is going to actively squash conservative media, they should at least have the integrity to drop the phony-baloney pretense that their system is unbiased.