LEFTWING BIGOTRY AT FACEBOOK : The Blacklisting Of Conservative News Outlets, Information Sites And Trending Topics

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If  you’ve  ever  used  Facebook,  you’ve  noticed  the  list  of  trending  topics  on  the  vertical  bar  along  the  right  side  of  the  page.  You  may  have  even  clicked  one  or  two  of  them  to  see  what’s  happening  or  why  the  topic  is  trending.  What  you  probably  didn’t  know  is  that  Facebook  apparently  blacklists  certain  topics  from  showing  up  or  certain  news  outlets  from  having  their  coverage  seen  by  Facebook’s  audiences.  

CONSERVATIVES  WHO  HAVE  LONG  SUSPECTED  THAT  SOCIAL  MEDIA  BEHEMOTH  FACEBOOK  LEANS  TO  THE  LIBERAL  SIDE  OF  THE  POLITICAL  SPECTRUM  NOW  HAVE  SOME  MORE  EVIDENCE  TO  BACK  UP  THEIR  SUSPICIONS.

THE  TECH  BLOG  GIZMODO  REVEALED  THAT  FACEBOOK  BLACKLISTS :  

1.  CERTAIN  TOPICS  FROM  APPEARING  IN  ITS  TRENDING  TOPICS,  AND

2.  CERTAIN  CONSERVATIVE  NEWS  SITES  FROM  SHOWING  UP  IN  ITS  USER                      NEWS  FEEDS.  

Gizmodo  talked  to  the  people  behind  Facebook’s  news  aggregation  service  –           “news  curators”  in  Facebook  speak  –  and  it  turns  out  that  Facebook’s  news  coverage  isn’t  based  on  fancy  unbiased  algorithms  at  all.  Nope.  Facebook’s  news  service  is  instead  run  by  people  who  want  to  make  sure  none  of  that  icky  rightwing  coverage  finds  its  way  in  front  of  people’s  eyeballs.  

The  trending  news  section  is  run  by  people  in  their  20s  and  early  30s,  most  of  whom  graduated  from  Ivy  League  and  private  East  Coast  schools  like  Columbia  University  and  NYU.  They’ve  previously  worked  at  outlets  like  The  New  York  Daily  News,  Bloomberg,  MSNBC  and  The  Guardian.  Some  former  curators  have  left  Facebook  for  jobs  at  organizations  including  The  New  Yorker,  Mashable  and  Sky  Sports.

RATHER  THAN  BEING  THE  OPEN  FORUM  FOR  DISCUSSION  THAT  FACEBOOK         CLAIMS  TO  BE,  IT  IS  INSTEAD  CENSORING  THE  TOPICS  AND  NEWS  SITES  THAT  AREN’T  FAVORED  BY  THE  CURATORS  WHO  MOSTLY  ATTENDED  LIBERAL  COLLEGES  AND  UNIVERSITIES,  AND  WHO  WORKED  FOR  LIBERAL  NEWS  ORGANIZATIONS  BEFORE  COMING  TO  WORK  FOR  FACEBOOK.

According  to  former  team  members  interviewed  by  Gizmodo,  this  small  group  has              the  power  to  choose  what  stories  make  it  onto  the  trending  bar  and,  more  importantly,  what  news  sites  each  topic  links  to.  “We  choose  what’s  trending,”          said  one.  “There  was  no  real  standard  for  measuring  what  qualified  as  news          and  what  didn’t.  It  was  up  to  the  news  curator  to  decide.”  

THEY  WERE  ALSO  TOLD  TO  SELECT  ARTICLES  FROM  A  LIST  OF  PREFERRED  MEDIA  OUTLETS  THAT  INCLUDED  SITES  LIKE  THE  NEW  YORK  TIMES,  TIME,  VARIETY  AND  OTHER  TRADITIONAL  OUTLETS.  THEY  WOULD  REGULARLY  AVOID  SITES  LIKE  WORLD  STAR,  HIP  HOP,  THE  BLAZE  AND  BREITBART  BUT  WERE  NEVER  EXPLICITLY  TOLD  TO  SUPPRESS  THOSE  OUTLETS.  THEY  WERE  ALSO  DISCOURAGED  FROM  MENTIONING  TWITTER  BY  NAME  IN  HEADLINES  AND  SUMMARIES,  AND  INSTEAD  ASKED  TO  REFER  TO  SOCIAL  MEDIA  IN  A  BROADER  CONTEXT.

NEWS  CURATORS  ALSO  HAVE  THE  POWER  TO  “DEACTIVATE”  ( OR  BLACKLIST )        A  TRENDING  TOPIC  –  A  POWER  THAT  THOSE  WE  SPOKE  TO  EXERCISED  ON            A  DAILY  BASIS.  A  TOPIC  WAS  OFTEN  BLACKLISTED  IF  IT  DIDN’T  HAVE                        AT  LEAST  THREE  TRADITIONAL  NEWS  SOURCES  COVERING  IT,  BUT  OTHERWISE          THE  PROTOCOL  WAS  MURKY  –  MEANING  A  CURATOR  COULD  OSTENSIBLY  BLACKLIST  A  TOPIC  WITHOUT  A  PARTICULARLY  GOOD  REASON  FOR  DOING  SO.  

You  read  that  correctly.  Facebook’s  news  curators regularly  went  out  of  their  way          to  make  sure  that  coverage  from  conservative  sites  rarely  found  its  way  into  Facebook’s  coverage  of  trending  news  topics.  

Facebook’s  trending  topic  blacklist  protocol  is  especially  egregious  because  it  gives        its  news  curators  multiple  different  ways  of  preventing  conservative  news  or  conservative  news  outlets  from  ever  seeing  the  light  of  day.  According  to  former  news  curators  for  the  tech  giant  who  talked  to  Gizmodo,  the  company  first  determines  who  is  and  isn’t  a  “preferred”  news  site.  Based  on  that  determination,  the  curators  then  have  the  power  to  blacklist  any  trending  topic  that  isn’t  sufficiently  covered  by  the  “preferred”  sites.

SOCIAL  MEDIA  SITES  LIKE  FACEBOOK  HAVE  AN  OBLIGATION  TO  PROTECT                   ITS  USERS  FROM  OBJECTIONABLE  CONTENT,  BUT  IF  IT  TRULY  WANTS  TO  BE         THE  NEWS  SOURCE  FOR  MILLIONS  OF  PEOPLE,  THEN  IT  SHOULD  MAKE  SURE          ITS  CURATING  TEAM  IS  FAIR  AND  BALANCED  AND  THAT  ALL  POINTS  OF  VIEW  HAVE  AN  EQUAL  OPPORTUNITY  TO  BE  SEEN  ON  ITS  SITE.

SOURCES :

“Conservative  News  Sites  And  Topics  Blacklisted  By  Facebook”  by  Don  Irvine,  www.accuracyinmedia.com :  May  4,  2016

“Surprise!  Facebook  Blacklists  Trending  Topics  And  Conservative  News  Outlets”                      by  The  Federalist  Staff,  The  Federalist :  May  3,  2016

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