Special to WorldTribune.com
Facebook systematically blacklisted news articles cast conservative politicians and conservative values in a positive light, former workers for the social media giant admitted.
News stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network’s influential “trending” news section were suppressed.
A former “news curator” on the “trending” section, said workers prevented stories about CPAC, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and other conservative topics from appearing “even though they were organically trending” among the site’s users.
The ex-Facebook employees told Gizmodo they were told by supervisors to artificially “inject” selected stories into the trending news module, even if they weren’t popular enough or in some cases weren’t trending at all.
Analysts said the revelations are in stark contrast to the Facebook’s claims that the trending module simply lists “topics that have recently become popular on Facebook.”
Gizmodo reported that Facebook’s trending news team consists of “a small group of young journalists, primarily educated at Ivy League or private East Coast universities, who curate the ‘trending’ module on the upper-right-hand corner of the site.
“Curators have access to a ranked list of trending topics surfaced by Facebook’s algorithm, which prioritizes the stories that should be shown to Facebook users in the trending section. The curators write headlines and summaries of each topic, and include links to news sites. The section, which launched in 2014, constitutes some of the most powerful real estate on the internet and helps dictate what news Facebook’s users —1 67 million in the U.S. alone — are reading at any given moment.”
“Depending on who was on shift, things would be blacklisted or trending,” said one former curator who asked to remain anonymous, citing fear of retribution from the company. The former curator is politically conservative, one of a very small handful of curators with such views on the trending team. “I’d come on shift and I’d discover that 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.”
The ex-curator said among the blacklisted or suppressed topics on the list were 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.
“I believe it had a chilling effect on conservative news,” the former curator said.
“It was absolutely bias. We were doing it subjectively. It just depends on who the curator is and what time of day it is,” another former curator said. “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.”