A former “curator” for Facebook’s trending topics section is speaking out about how conservative news stories that would organically trend on the platform were often censored from making the coveted list of top stories.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity to Gizmodo — out of fear of retribution from Facebook — the former curator and journalist explained that stories on topics such as the CPAC gathering, Mitt Romney, and Rand Paul, were frequently suppressed from making the influential list.
“Depending on who was on shift, things would be blacklisted or trending,” the former curator, who is also conservative, told Gizmodo. “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.”
Facebook has publicly maintained that they are neutral when it comes to politics, but the claims from their curator team significantly counter that narrative.
“I believe it had a chilling effect on conservative news,” the former curator continued.
Additionally, if right-wing news site such as Red State broke a story, and Facebook did decide to feature it, they would look for it on a neutral website to promote instead of the original source.
“It was absolutely bias. We were doing it subjectively. It just depends on who the curator is and what time of day it is,” they explained. “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.”
Facebook was not only suppressing stories either, they were also encouraged to use an “injection tool” to manually insert trending topics that were not causing enough discussion to make the list on their own. This would often result in the story making the top trending item, even if it wouldn’t have by its own merits.
“We were told that if we saw something, a news story that was on the front page of these ten sites, like CNN, the New York Times, and BBC, then we could inject the topic,” said one former curator. “If it looked like it had enough news sites covering the story, we could inject it—even if it wasn’t naturally trending.”
This was done especially in the case of breaking news, which the platform has struggled with keeping up with Twitter on.
“We would get yelled at if it was all over Twitter and not on Facebook,” another former curator told the tech website.
This was also true for hashtags, specifically, Black Lives Matter, the movement which CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally endorsed in February.
“Facebook got a lot of pressure about not having a trending topic for Black Lives Matter,” the individual said. “They realized it was a problem, and they boosted it in the ordering. They gave it preference over other topics. When we injected it, everyone started saying, ‘Yeah, now I’m seeing it as number one’.”
These allegations are especially chilling given Zuckerberg’s public criticism of Republican front runner Donald Trump last month — as well as reports that Facebook employees were asking for discussion regarding the responsibility the company had to “prevent President Trump in 2017.”
Facebook responded and denied the allegations in a statement to Buzzfeed and TechCrunch late Monday afternoon, but did not reply to inquiries from Gizmodo — who broke the story.
“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. These guidelines do not permit the suppression of political perspectives. Nor do they permit the prioritization of one viewpoint over another or one news outlet over another. These guidelines do not prohibit any news outlet from appearing in Trending Topics.”
Agrabah: Den of Evil
(This article is a work of satire writing. Even so, these links lead to actual facts and are properly sourced. Enjoy!)
A recent poll from Public Policy Polling reveals that only 30% of Republican Primary voters would bomb the Disney city of Agrabah. Democrats fell even deeper in the poll with only 20% of Democratic Primary voters feeling compelled to shell Agrabah relentlessly from the air, sea, land and underground.
Jeb Bush was quick to establish condemnation in response to the devastating revelations, being “unable to believe this pol” and asserting a dire need for, “new bombey bombs”. (more…)
Media Roots Radio – Facebook, Information Age, Technology, NDAA, GOP Race by Media Roots
MEDIA ROOTS – Abby & Robbie Martin discuss the age of information in the 21st century and philosophize what the ability to instantaneously connect with people worldwide has done to modern society; the subjectivity of “truth” as history becomes re-written with every passing generation; Alan Moore v. Frank Miller on Occupy Wall Street; The passing of the new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that allows the indefinite detention of American citizens; the GOP race as a parody of itself with the candidates running and how voting for Ron Paul would be a fun social experiment if nothing else than to spoil the GOP primary.
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MEDIA ROOTS– Michelle Bachmann’s catapult to fame eerily resembles Sarah Palin’s rise to the top during the 2008 election circus. Both Bachmann and Palin are media made sensations whose extreme antics and shocking ignorance of basic civics have only garnered them more attention. One can’t help but wonder if the popularity of such inept candidates has been in part manufactured by the establishment to provide insurance for another Obama victory.
On a panel discussing Michelle Bachmann’s potential presidential run, Chris Matthews strangely admitted that Bachmann was “created here“– in reference to his MSNBC show Hardball. Was he insinuating that he was partly responsible for Bachmann’s recognition and success?
In 2008, Matthews excoriated Bachmann for her suggestion to catalog and investigate ‘dissenters’ in the House of Representatives, then proceeded to give her a platform to speak at length on his show. Bachmann’s empty rhetoric equating liberalism with anti-Americanism became a viral hit online.
Later on Real Time with Bill Maher, Matthews repeats himself, adding gleefully that “Bachmann’s going to win the nomination.” Maybe Matthews is smiling because he is hoping for his Frankenstein-esque creation to fall on her own sword, creating an easy victory for Obama. Tricks or so called ‘dirty’ ones have always been a part of the election cycle. Matthews is an influential partisan talking head, who is experienced enough in the media world to know exactly what he’s doing.
In a recent Media Roots Interview, Cindy Sheehan said that Sarah Palin was picked as Mccain’s VP as “insurance” for an Obama victory. Whether or not that’s true, it’s undeniable that a large amount of Americans voted for Obama in 2008 solely because of how terrifying the prospect of a Mccain/Palin presidency was.
It’s a sad state of democracy when people are fear-mongered into voting against their own interests. As long as the media continues to prop up such extremist GOP candidates, people who identify themselves as liberal, green and libertarian will continue to knee jerkily vote for bought-and-paid for establishment candidates that will proceed the policies that have bankrupted and demoralized this nation.
Photo by flickr user Scott Spiegael
Media Roots Radio – Weinergate, Election Kick-off, Net Neutrality, Police’s “War on Fun” by Media Roots
MEDIA ROOTS– This episode covers Anthony Weiner and how political sex scandals dominate over real issues, the 2012 campaign kick-off: the RNC debates and media propaganda surrounding the candidate pool and Obama’s marketing campaign, Net Neutrality and the lobbying system, and the bay area police’s “War on Fun” of shutting down underground parties and stealing electronic equipment from djs.