Last week, Gizmodo published an article suggesting that Facebook suppresses conservative, right-wing news in favor of more left-leaning, liberal-friendly ones. The allegations are weak, specious, and not supplemented with any hard evidence. Here’s why:
- The article cites shadowy, anonymous “former news curators” who make the claim that Facebook’s Trending News topics are biased. The article refers to “several” former employees. That number could range from 2 people to 200; we just don’t know. Frankly, anyone can make any outlandish claim under the cloak of anonymity.
- Facebook is not a media company or a news organization. It does not have a staff of reporters. It does employ freelancers who select trending news topics based on what Facebook users are sharing.
- Facebook’s internal guidelines for its news curators are about sticking to a consistent style and trying to deliver a broad range of news stories as trending, and not for a political agenda. The Guardian, a news outlet that never met a conspiracy theory it didn’t like (it was one of the news companies to publish the Edward Snowden stolen information) states in an article that Facebook’s own internal guidelines for curators “are sure to bolster arguments that Facebook has made discriminatory editorial decisions against right-wing media.” If you read the guidelines, that is purely overwrought conjecture.
- The author of the Gizmodo story appeared on CBS News’ national morning show this week. In a stumbling interview where he was grilled quite a bit by Oprah bestie Gayle King, he essentially echoed the same words he wrote in the article that the reason Facebook is liberal-biased is because it employs, “a small group of young journalists, primarily educated at Ivy League or private East Coast universities.” The implication is that these are liberal-educated, brainwashed sorts who cannot be trusted to curate a swath of news stories without regard to political leanings. A claim that is biased in and of itself.
Of course, with the political climate the way it is, Republicans are chomping at the bit to jump in on the accusation runaway cuckoo train. South Dakota senator John Thune is so aggrieved, he took the time to write a three page, finger-wagging letter demanding Facebook answer the absurd allegation.
Meanwhile, a Supreme Court seat remains vacant and children are still getting sick from the water in Flint.