Facebook faux pas
Facebook reportedly suppresses conservative news coverage
Former Facebook employees in charge of the site's news curation have revealed that the "trending" news section, claimed to be a reflection of "topics that have recently become popular on Facebook," was routinely manipulated, and that conservative news stories were often suppressed. One ex-worker told Gizmodo that stories about CPAC, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and other conservative topics were kept from appearing in the "trending" section despite the fact that they actually were trending among the site's users. In other instances, stories that weren't actually popular enough to appear in the trending section were added anyway.
"It was absolutely bias. We were doing it subjectively. It just depends on who the curator is and what time of day it is," a 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." The former curator said that even if the site's algorithm picked up a story from a conservative outlet, they would exclude it unless a mainstream site was covering it.
Stories about Syria, on the other hand, were added to the section even if people weren't actually talking about it on Facebook, because "it was deemed important for making the network look like a place where people talked about hard news." The same thing happened with the Black Lives Matter movement, the curator said. "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."
Read the entire scoop on Facebook's inner-workings over at Gizmodo.
Update, 4:48 p.m.: Facebook told BuzzFeed News in a statement Monday they "take allegations of bias very seriously," and that their guidelines "do not permit the suppression of political perspectives."