Facebook insists they are a ‘neutral’ platform that will not use their social media power to influence the upcoming elections in any way.
A pair of reports coming out in recent days suggests otherwise.
First, Facebook released a statement less than a month ago on the elections and their supposed ‘neutrality.’
Voting is a core value of democracy and we believe that supporting civic participation is an important contribution we can make to the community. We encourage any and all candidates, groups, and voters to use our platform to share their views on the election and debate the issues. We as a company are neutral — we have not and will not use our products in a way that attempts to influence how people vote.
A report from The Lid Blog shows that Facebook is indeed ‘attempting to influence how people vote’ by controlling and suppressing conservative news and opinion.
The Lid cites several examples of such conservative suppression and writes:
Facebook has often been accused of being liberal and censoring conservative news and commentary, but now people are offering proof that those accusations may, indeed, be true. The social media site is censoring conservative news and opinion on both their news feed and posts on individual member pages.
Gizmodo, a major tech blog, interviewed some of the former editors for Facebook’s news aggregation service (Facebook calls them “news curators”). While technically not Facebook employees, these curators have “the power to choose what stories make it onto the trending bar and, more importantly, what news sites each topic links out to.”
They contend the selection of stories and sources for Facebook is automated but, based on the directions they received, some sources and topics are “blacklisted” to avoid exposing readers to conservative points of view.
Gizmodo peels the curtain back even further with a report just hours ago in which several Facebook workers admit they ‘routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network’s influential “trending” news section.’
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.
Three years ago, we asked if censorship of conservatives on Facebook was becoming a trend. At the time, an editor that shared one of our stories was blocked from the platform for the first time since he had participated.
Many other conservative contributors had been blocked or banned at that time as well.
Fox News reporter Todd Starnes was banned from Facebook for what he dubbed as “politically incorrect” commentary on the issue of guns.
Jeff Dunetz, a conservative blogger at the popular site The Lid wrote, “I have had 4 of my articles removed as abusive in the past week.”
The wildly popular and hilarious conservative commentator, Steven Crowder, had a video which parodied the star witness in the George Zimmerman removed as a violation of ‘hate speech’ policies.
Amy, whose Twitter profile says “vote conservative”, was recently blocked for having the audacity to suggest prayer in a comment.
There have been other, similar stories as well.
Now these new reports seem to indicate a crackdown on conservative news at the leading Social Media website on the planet.