Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Facebook - suppressing conservative news stories

Gizmodo ran this story, "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."

True or false, unknown, but it certainly got people's attention:

ABCnews reports, "A senior adviser to Donald Trump will attend a meeting with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday with prominent conservative leaders in response to a recent report of Facebook’s handling of conservative news stories, a campaign official said today. "

According to The Verge, "Facebook's chief executive Mark Zuckerberg is meeting with Glenn Beck and other leading conservatives this week to discuss allegations of political bias in the social network's Trending Topics section. In a Facebook post on Sunday, Beck said Zuckerberg's office had called him about the meeting, and that he wanted to "look [Zuckerberg] in the eye as he explains."

Whatever the truth actually is, one blogger scored serious buzz, ""We removed this from Facebook because it violates our Community Standards," Facebook wrote me. "So you're temporarily blocked from using this feature."

Here is what Facebook has to say, "The Trending Topics team is governed by a set of guidelines meant to ensure a high-quality product, consistent with Facebook’s deep commitment to being a platform for people of all viewpoints. Our goal has always been to deliver a valuable experience for the people who use our service. The guidelines demonstrate that we have a series of checks and balances in place to help surface the most important popular stories, regardless of where they fall on the ideological spectrum. Facebook does not allow or advise our reviewers to discriminate against sources of any political origin, period."

The questions of the hour are:
1) Will this be forgotten by next week, or will it grow into a significant issue?
2) Will this have any impact on people's perception of facebook?
I will set a calendar entry to check up on this in about ten days.

5/25/16 Recode runs an update story:
"Facebook said at the time that this was not true. It reiterated that Monday in an open letter to Thune, in which it highlighted an internal Facebook investigation. "Our investigation has revealed no evidence of systematic political bias in the selection or prominence of stories included in the Trending Topics feature," the letter reads."

Facebook is making some changes as a result of the investigation. My opinion is this is a tempest in a teacup and the story will sink from the public consciousness.

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