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Facebook Manipulation Proves Mainstream Media Bias

Updated on May 15, 2016
Bobby Shanahan profile image

Robert is a freelance writer/researcher in the Seattle, WA area. He covers current political, economic, and geopolitical news.

Facebook faces scrutiny on “trending” news

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. A recent Gizmodo article blew the lid off the social media’s manipulation of news stories.

In an age where people are getting their news and information from a wider variety of sources, such as Facebook, it is troubling to realize how in bed with the Left seemingly every major media outlet is. It’s no wonder my generation, the Millennials, growing up in the age of social media, are politically much more liberal than conservative.

Facebook trending news ignored popular stories in and around the Republican party in particular. Stories they did not pick up on included: Mitt Romney, the Conservative Political Action Committee, and Rand Paul. These stories were not given the top of the headlines position they deserved as they were originally trending among the site’s actual users.

How do they decide on these trending stories?

According to several former Facebook “news curators,” they were told to artificially inject certain stories into the trending news. These stories they inserted into the trending section were not actually “trending” in any sense of the word. Put more bluntly, Facebook is becoming like yet another left-leaning newsroom that reflects the biases of its workers and the “institutional imperatives of the corporation.”

This way of going about managing the trending news on the site is in direct contrast to the company’s claims that the trending news stories are simply ones popular with their users, some 167 million in the United States alone.

Manipulation, suppression, and more!

What is even more troubling than the insertion of not popular news stories is the fact that actually important events are not being covered at all because they fall on the conservative end of the spectrum. Some examples from the Gizmodo piece of more uncovered stories include: former IRS official Lois Lerner accused of scrutinizing conservative groups, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s short rise in presidential politics, popular conservative news aggregator the Drudge Report, and even Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper from American Sniper), former Navy Seal was killed in 2013 after serving multiple tours in Iraq.

The Facebook curators also did not trust conservative news sites. According to one inside source, stories by outlets such as Breitbart, Washington Examiner, and Newsmax, that were popular enough to be picked up by the algorithm, were not included in the trending news stories unless they were picked up by a New York Times, BBC, or CNN.

One of the news stories artificially injected into the list? That’s right, the Black Lives Matter movement was in there. “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 injection is noteworthy because the #BlackLivesMatter movement originated on Facebook, and the resulting media coverage of the movement often noted its powerful social media presence...started by Facebook!!!

Still don’t believe me?

A recent report published in The Guardian includes a training document for these Facebook news creators that details how they should manipulate the news. The instructions in these documents directly counter Facebook’s initial denials that editors directly insert headlines into their trending news.

The guidelines in the manual say that editors must choose stories from a list of 10 trusted news sites. These are the three we mentioned before, plus a few others, and Fox News appears to be the only right-wing site on the list.

While Facebook continues to claim its neutrality and impartiality, it is hard to believe them after these allegations from inside sources. While Mr. Zuckerberg has recently posted that the social media platform is a place for all voices, with the current state of American media and the evolving social media news sourcing, it appears our public is being brainwashed to care only about liberal causes. That is why it is imperative to seek out multiple sources and go beyond the simple mainstream media talking points.

News organizations carry and perpetuate the views of their owners. While Mr. Zuckerberg’s political philosophies are largely a mystery, I’ve got a pretty good feeling he leans pretty far left. They all do.

Can you trust Facebook with the news?

Facebook fair or not?

Is Facebook fairly treating news from both sides of the political spectrum with the same attention? Or are they manipulating the news to serve their liberal masters?

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