Facebook and politics: Conservative news reportedly suppressed; RNC sponsorship

Ah, Facebook — a place to go if you’re feeling feisty and want to start or wade into a political disagreement or two.

But you might be missing out on an important source of outrage because the social network’s news curators were told to suppress news from conservative media outlets, Gizmodo reports. Citing unnamed former Facebook news curators who were responsible for the “trending” news section, the report says:

Stories covered by conservative outlets (like Breitbart, Washington Examiner, and Newsmax) that were trending enough to be picked up by Facebook’s algorithm were excluded unless mainstream sites like the New York Times, the BBC, and CNN covered the same stories.

In addition, curators were told to insert trending topics even if they weren’t actually trending, the former employees of the social network say. There reportedly was pressure to ensure that the same things that were trending on Twitter — such as Syria and Black Lives Matter — also showed up in Facebook’s trending section. (By the way, this report follows on another Gizmodo article that reported accusations from former Facebook news curators who worked on a contract basis for the company and felt mistreated.)

Facebook has not responded to our request for comment.

So what does all this mean? It possibly reinforces that human beings are biased. But we also note here that Facebook doesn’t quite promise objectivity when it comes to its trending news section.

Still, those raring to get into political tiffs with their “friends” and family need not rely on the trending news section. They can still search for their favorite conservative (or liberal) news source on Facebook and share links that’ll get that blood boiling and those fingers typing.

And conservatives who might be upset because they think the social network leans left — perhaps based on the Gizmodo article and comments by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump — get in line. Facebook has irked the other side, too.

Progressive groups that have been pushing for Facebook to withhold support for the Republican National Convention because of the divisive views and “hateful rhetoric” of Trump, who will be named the GOP presidential nominee, haven’t had much luck. The social network will reportedly give “financial and other support” to the RNC this summer “to facilitate an open dialogue among voters, candidates, and elected officials during the conventions.”

Update: In a statement provided to BuzzFeed, Facebook said: “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.”

 

Photo from AFP/Getty Images

 

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  • david

    Well just maybe, Facebook is a little smarter than most, and realizes that an awful lot of the stories on Newsmax and the Washington Examiner, (and the worst! Fox News) may just “stretch” some of the accuracy of these stories, or are full of what are known as “weasel words, to make them more attractive to those that are most attracted to their crap.

  • Dave

    I don’t care whatever your political viewpoint is. When any outlet of free speech is suppressed, that brings us one step closer to totalitarianism. Let the people decide what is truth and what are lies. I don’t need Facebook to be my big brother or big sister to decide for me. Zuckerberg does not understand American values, he just does what he wants, when he wants, and how he wants, but he cannot change our representative form of government that protects all citizens.

    • warhammer45945

      This isn’t an issue of free speech. Everyone is still free to say what they want, maybe just not on Facebook.

      You should change your outlook from

      > I don’t need Facebook to be my big brother or big sister to decide for me.

      to simply

      > I don’t need Facebook.

  • Miffler J. Tripod

    Why would you promote racism, prejudice and war mongering?

  • cohenfive

    There is very little of what I would call truly objective and unbiased media these days. The fact that FB leans left is no surprise, they are in line with the vast majority of media. What is a bummer for me is that some outlets that used to be fairly unbiased like the NYT have now moved pretty far away from center. ‘Reader beware’ I would say….

  • EllaFino

    Calling sites like Brietbart and Newsmax news organizations is like calling the National Enquirer a newspaper.

 
 
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