Facebook is currently facing allegations that one of the most powerful distributors of news on the internet is actively censoring politically conservative news articles. Facebook, of course, denies it but the allegations were published throughout conservative media this afternoon.
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According to Gizmodo, a former news curator said that popular articles from politically conservative outlets on conservative subjects were left off of the "trending news" sidebar - on purpose.
“I’d come on shift and I’d discover that CPAC [Conservative Political Action Conference] 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,” the former news curator told Gizmodo.
Facebook, in return, said that it has "rigorous guidelines" to ensure that there was political neutrality in the distribution of its news, which is seen by over 1.6 billion users from all over the globe.
"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," the company said in an emailed statement. "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."
The report comes after many people have started talking about Facebook's growing influence over what news we see. When you look at your screen, you should see trending news reports on the upper right side - those are the links that millions upon millions of people click on when they want news.
Curators control just what goes onto that list.
The Gizmodo report confirmed "what conservatives have long suspected: Facebook’s trending news artificially mutes conservatives and amplifies progressives." The Drudge Report ran a photograph of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg: "Not Leaning In ... Leaning Left!"
The news curator hasn't been identified because he is afraid that Facebook will sue him. He is politically conservative.
Another former curator for Facebook challenged the report from Gizmodo, saying that he didn't see that and that the news was curated.
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"What we have from the report is anecdotal and it’s tough to know what’s going on," said Josh Constine. "Facebook’s biggest problem may have been not realizing humans have biases – including political ones."