Anonymous sources at Facebook’s news team have confirmed to Gizmodo that, in addition to suppressing conservative news sources, the company suppresses stories about itself while artificially promoting stories about the Black Lives Matter movement.
This is the latest in the story of Facebook’s politically biased “trending” section, which we initially reported on last week. The anonymous source told Gizmodo that stories from conservative news sources like Breitbart were regularly suppressed by the company.
New details emerged today, with the anonymous employee revealing to Gizmodo that stories about Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, CPAC, and other conservative topics were prevented from reaching Facebook’s “trending” category. Furthermore, stories about progressive movements like Black Lives Matter were artificially promoted by the company.
According to Gizmodo, the source kept a list of stories that were “deep sixed,” or prevented from trending on Facebook. They include a laundry list of topics of interest to conservatives.
Among the deep-sixed or suppressed topics on the list: former IRS official Lois Lerner, who was accused by Republicans of inappropriately scrutinizing conservative groups; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; popular conservative news aggregator the Drudge Report; Chris Kyle, the former Navy SEAL who was murdered in 2013; and former Fox News contributor Steven Crowder.
Gizmodo explains that, far from reflecting the interests of the social network’s users, the site’s “trending” list instead reflects the biases of its news team.
In other words, Facebook’s news section operates like a traditional newsroom, reflecting the biases of its workers and the institutional imperatives of the corporation. Imposing human editorial values onto the lists of topics an algorithm spits out is by no means a bad thing—but it is in stark contrast to the company’s claims that the trending module simply lists “topics that have recently become popular on Facebook.”