News & Politics

Former Employees Explain How Facebook Censors Conservatives

Conservatives have long suspected that Facebook censors conservative news and commentary on their news feeds. Now, according to the tech blog Gizmodo, their suspicions have been confirmed. Former editors for Facebook’s news aggregation service told Gizmodo that they had “the power to choose what stories make it onto the trending bar and, more importantly, what news sites each topic links out to.” While  selections for stories are automated, the “news curators” claimed some sources and topics are “blacklisted” to avoid exposing readers to conservative points of view.

Facebook workers routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network’s influential “trending” news section, according to a former journalist who worked on the project. This individual says that workers prevented stories about the right-wing CPAC gathering, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and other conservative topics from appearing in the highly-influential section, even though they were organically trending among the site’s users.

Several former Facebook “news curators,” as they were known internally, also told Gizmodo that they were instructed to artificially “inject” selected stories into the trending news module, even if they weren’t popular enough to warrant inclusion—or in some cases weren’t trending at all. The former curators, all of whom worked as contractors, also said they were directed not to include news about Facebook itself in the trending module.

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.”

It’s no secret that traditional newsrooms are hives of barely veiled liberal/Democrat opinions, but Facebook’s shady methods make its bias particularly egregious.

Gizmodo reported last week on Facebook’s trending section, which debuted in 2014. Their 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.”  Their job is to “write headlines and summaries of each topic, and include links to news sites.” They also get to choose the “most substantive post” to summarize the topic, usually from a news website.

News curators also have the power to “deactivate” (or blacklist) a trending topic—a power that those we spoke to exercised on a daily basis. A topic was often blacklisted if it didn’t have at least three traditional news sources covering it, but otherwise the protocol was murky—meaning a curator could ostensibly blacklist a topic without a particularly good reason for doing so.

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. “I believe it had a chilling effect on conservative news,” the former curator said.

Another former curator stated that right-wing news sources were more or less blacklisted.

“It was absolutely bias. We were doing it subjectively. It just depends on who the curator is and what time of day it is,” he 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.”

And when certain favored topics weren’t trending organically — like Black Lives Matter — they were injected into the feed.

 “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. When we injected it, everyone started saying, ‘Yeah, now I’m seeing it as number one’.” This particular injection is especially noteworthy because the #BlackLivesMatter movement originated on Facebook, and the ensuing media coverage of the movement often noted its powerful social media presence.

(In February, CEO Mark Zuckerberg expressed his support for the movement in an internal memo chastising Facebook employees for defacing Black Lives Matter slogans on the company’s internal “signature wall.”)

In case there is any remaining doubt that Facebook has no intention of providing its 1.04 billion users with unbiased, unfiltered access to the news, perhaps a recent internal Facebook poll gives a clue.

Facebook employees on March 4 voted in a weekly poll on what to ask CEO Mark Zuckerberg in an upcoming Q&A session. That question was: “What responsibility does Facebook have to help prevent President Trump in 2017?”

Meanwhile, comedian Steven Crowder — one of the conservatives blacklisted by Facebook — says there’s much more to come on this story.

The information to be released here at www.LouderWithCrowder.com goes well beyond the current information available, and I more than believe, will challenge the trust not only of Facebook users, but clients and advertisers engaged in financial relationships with Facebook as well.

Again, I’m not talking about a “boo-hoo, my blog got censored!” post. What I am talking about, will be a game-changer. Nobody will look at Facebook or social media platforms the same.

Notice a big difference between this site named and the others? LouderWithCrowder.com is not nearly as big, I have no “corporate backers” or red tape to cut through. This site is entirely independent and completely unfiltered. But even at its relatively small size compared to the behemoths, this site was named as a prime target. Why? Because LouderWithCrowder.com on a post-per-post basis, outperforms the bigger sites and we play in the left’s backyard. My wonderful team and I gain traction on Youtube, on Facebook, in the podcast world… territory that many Conservatives have simply conceded. THAT is why this site is targeted.

Stay tuned.