Former Facebook workers: We routinely suppressed conservative 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,” Michael Nunez reports for Gizmodo. “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.”

“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,'” Nunez reports. “These new allegations emerged after Gizmodo last week revealed details about the inner workings of Facebook’s trending news team—a small group of young journalists, primarily educated at Ivy League or private East Coast universities, who curate the ‘trending’ module on the upper-right-hand corner of the site.”

“The section, which launched in 2014, constitutes some of the most powerful real estate on the internet and helps dictate what news Facebook’s users—167 million in the US alone—are reading at any given moment,” Nunez reports. “The former curator was so troubled by the omissions that they kept a running log of them at the time; this individual provided the notes to Gizmodo. 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.”

“In other instances, curators would inject a story—even if it wasn’t being widely discussed on Facebook—because it was deemed important for making the network look like a place where people talked about hard news. ‘People stopped caring about Syria,’ one former curator said. ‘[And] if it wasn’t trending on Facebook, it would make Facebook look bad,” Nunez reports. “That same curator said the Black Lives Matter movement was also injected into Facebook’s trending news module. ‘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.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Shocking. (dripping sarcasm)

As always, readers of “news” need to consider the sources and interpret what they are are being told accordingly. The more disparate sources you can find, the better. And we don’t mean different newspaper, network, website brands that are all owned by the same conglomerate. Determining the actual ownership of your “news” sources is an investment that requires a bit of time, but it is very enlightening.MacDailyNews Take, June 17, 2015

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]

87 Comments

  1. Not any different the the copy machines in each major city that get’s it’s originals from “sources” and then copy during the night and deliver on your doorstep each morning.

    Well, much less doorsteps these days. Hope I live to see the NY Slimes go under.
    That would be trending news.

    1. If you honestly think that most American newspapers are spouting a liberal line, you have no grasp of history. Or reality.

      Most city papers are fairly conservative. Most newspaper owners are very conservative. Sheldon Adelson just bought Nevada’s biggest newspaper. It wasn’t a charitable move, it was purely political (involving, among other things, his fight with the city’s Chamber of Commerce and a battle over public financing for a new football stadium).

      And as for The New York Times, only their editorial page is “liberal.” Their news paper have ALWAYS been centrist (they were one of the biggest proponents of the Iraq war, and have consistently belittled Bernie Sanders). It’s similar to the pre-Murdoch Wall Street Journal. Their editorials were far right, but their news operation was to the left of The New York Times.

      1. Depends on your definition of ‘conservative.’

        I can’t think of any major city paper with a ‘Conservative’ bent. Every major newspaper in the country is promoting ‘progressive’ changes and it all began in the 50s with a single reporter and was finished under Obama.

        I think you’re confusing ‘consevative’ for rich old white guys, which is about par for Leftists/Marxists.

        And all 3 major networks are total Democratic Party News Organizations, a far cry from the ‘60s. And no, Fox is not a major Network – they still don’t have the programming hours the 3 majors have.

        My source?

        Life, asshole. I’ve watched it all evolve from Eisenhower to the Marxist.

        1. Except Eisenhower ran on the new deal, was a champion of unions, and had a 91% top marginal tax rate…. He warned of the right wing crazies in his farewell address and the military industrial complex. He was a republican, but in today’s climate he would most likely be a democrat.

          In point of fact, the media was very well balanced until 1987 when the fairness doctrine was repealed by the regan administration, and then in 1996 when the telecommunications act finished it off, the floodgates really opened.

          There absolutely has been a “conservative/right wing” push going on since the Nixon administration. Roger Ailes worked for him and wrote a memo outlining “Gop tv” in 1970. He then got fired and went to work at TVN with the slogan “fair and balanced”, which he then took to Fox News in 1996. But it’s a slogan and nothing more.

          At least back in the 50’s & 60’s when Edward Murrow or Walter Cronkite gave you their opinion, they told you it was their opinion. But didn’t slant the news for any particular outcome. They reported facts.

          As soon as the profit motive got into news, it because sensationalism run rampant.

            1. He did do that. And he’s also responsible for allowing under God in the pledge of allegiance, and in God we trust on money. And he also built the interstate highway system. Like most presidents he was mixed bag, but there is no way in hell he’d be in the Republican Party now.

            2. Eisenhower is rolling over in his grave just on the thought of Dangerous Donald being the GOP nominee. Trump’s loose rhetoric regarding war, nuclear weapons, the use of torture, even ordering soldiers to break the law…all would be abhorrent to Ike.

            3. Ike warned of the military industrial complex. The American military doesn’t need to be revitalized: it already is by far and away the world’s most powerful military. Our military spending dwarfs those of other countries, including China.

              Ike in international relations, was not an isolationist, far from it, having seen the disastrous results of isolationism and nationalism that led to WWII. Ike supported the Marshall Plan, which rebuilt Europe and Japan. Trump would have argued we were suckers for doing so and that it was too expensive.

              On immigration, Ike was wrong and his Operation Wetback is a stain on American history.

              Ike would be shocked at the total ignorance of Trump, as well as his propensity to lie all the time.

            4. I’m sure you’d be right.

              Assuming there were substantive proposals that did a full cost/benefits analysis and everyone knew that taxes were going to have to go up to pay for that. I’m assuming you can point Ike’s ghost to that.

      2. “If you honestly think that most American newspapers are spouting a liberal line, you have no grasp of history. Or reality.”

        You know a lot about no grasp of history and reality.

      3. Mike, you’re redefining “conservative” and “liberal” to suit your purposes. Amnesty (Adelson), the Iraq War and belittling Sanders aren’t “conservative” positions. It looks like “far right” is your catchall term for anything you disagree with.

        The Mass Media has to be understood as an evolving entity that has been steadily driving our culture to the left for generations. Dr. Charlton explains it very well in his book, available for free: http://addictedtodistraction.blogspot.co.uk

    1. One of the best books that I have read is this one, and it’s free: http://addictedtodistraction.blogspot.co.uk Dr. Charlton describes the Mass Media and it’s deleterious effect on society. His other book, also free: http://thoughtprison-pc.blogspot.com About how the ideology of political correctness has taken over western culture.

      Those who describe a “conservative” or “right-wing” media bias were raised in a 100% progressive/liberal environment so they think that is reality. Any deviation from that belief system is a threat that has to be destroyed.

  2. Just so we understand: It doesn’t matter which end of the 1 dimensional political scale you prefer, there’s someone into suppressing it in the news media. Liberal biased, Conservative biased, both the fact of the matter. This is sadly, typical human behavior. We can go back to basic old tribal behavior where ‘my tribe is better than your tribe’ attitudes are translated into the stories told about ‘Us and Them’. That’s how old propaganda really is.

    1. Thoughts along that line

      Despite all the different biases baked into our stone age nervous systems — which had survival value a long time ago but now can mislead us — the conscious, rational component of thinking can and does correct for most of them, otherwise this motley civilisation likely couldn’t exist.

      That’s the good news. The bad news is there are more and more numerous and diverse tribes, tribes-within-tribes, and overlapping tribes that mutate into cults that threaten to metastasize. That too is civilisation.

      No wonder the aliens keep their distance. Earth is a powder keg, and I doubt we have anything they want, unless they fancy roadkill.

      The key to cooperation, in terms of the cognitive biases that underlie our tribal affiliations, is to locate common values and purpose within a larger, enclosing tribe. This turns adversaries into allies, and is wonderful when it works.

      1. I was hoping you’d collaborate in this thread. I considered the term ‘tribes’ and thought of you. 😉

        As to whether the aliens wanting anything of ours, seeing as we are the only dominant, ‘thinking’ life form in this solar system, we humans have the property rights to everything within our solar system. Therefore, we have the asteroid belt, which is full of wonderful elements already significantly pulverized for consumption. Titan is a remarkable, waiting source of simple organic energy. The gravity of both Jupiter and Saturn are wonderful sources of gravitational derived energy. Mercury is a lovely place to dump with garbage of all sorts, etc. Once we humans get the hang of intra-species cooperation (*cynical laugh*) the aliens will be pounding on our planetary door asking for leasing and extraction rights. 😀 Oh and we have some wonderfully flavorful plant and animal life, an intergalactic gourmet’s dream.

        1. Property rights? Don’t make me laugh. That’s not even a human right, let alone something that can be adjudicated amongst alien species. Yes, yes, I know many “civilised” humans today consider it their right to legally control property and a cylinder of airspace and mineral rights. Those laws vary across the planet and are nonexistent in most “primitive” tribes who regard themselves as one with the Earth Goddess. Go back in time to the Feudal system and a small handful of people owned everything. Indeed the entire history of this species consists of violating each others’ territoriality, in order to grab the best stuff, then setting up a system of laws so that the clan leaders can keep most of it for themselves, and dole out the rest to obtain fealty.

          As for asteroids and Titan, they may be in our neighborhood but our own conventions call for planting a flag or something to formally claim ownership of a piece of rock. What if we land on Titan and find someone (or something) has left a claim marker? Are we going to insist that it’s invalid? We’ve done that before here on Earth: invalidate outsiders by decree. Property is essentially just spoils of war under a fancy name.

          But if someone (or something) landed on Titan before we did, it would seem likely that they would not flinch before our aggression, or fall to our murderous scythes as did the Neanderthals. It would seem likely they’d have the better weapons.

          1. What if we land on Titan and find someone (or something) has left a claim marker?

            Then it would be WAR! War of the worlds.

            …it would seem likely that they would not flinch before our aggression, or fall to our murderous scythes as did the Neanderthals.

            Did we Homo sapiens sapiens have scythes at that point? Were we into the iron age? I suck at pre-history.

            Let’s discuss further. My place, 4 pm, coffee, homemade key lime pie. The galaxy needs our help!

            1. Hey DC,

              Gotta give you credit for years now hanging in there chasing Hannahjs, and now Herself, which I am guessing are one in the same.

              Dessert on me, good luck buddy … 👍🏻

            2. I like that you use emoji — not unlike John Wayne wearing a pink neckerchief — but what was the third symbol in your comment, following the thumbs-up? For some reason it’s not in my local dictionary, and comes up a blank square.

            3. Seem to recall while on fly fishing vacation in my camp on a pristine and world famous trout stream, in a serendipitous moment, picked an emoji and not sure what the third symbol represents. Sorry.

              Did you know, John Wayne wore a blazing red shirt in the classic movie ‘The Searchers.’ Number four all-time greatest movie, but I don’t recall the website. Anyhow, pink on Wayne? Can’t say I saw that …

              Also, seem to recall your 4S fits perfectly in your horseback pocket. Upgraded to the 5SE and it is the NEW ‘perfect size,’ but the flat eye candy is a letdown.

              🎣🍰🍺😎🐟💁

            4. The iPhone SE fits my pocket, a little more snug than the old model but not unsurmountable. You know, such small details do matter. A hitch in the holster and John Wayne would draw his Colt less readily, and more people could die as a result. Fine workmanship is the hallmark of great warriors, craftsmen, riders, fishermen — in a way, we are only as good as our tools. Steve Jobs knew this, and saw it as a way of making us better.

            5. Good to hear your horse pants are accepting of the slightly larger size. The SE is the most amazing and powerful phone of its size on planet earth. Steve was amazing on fine details and alas, sorely lacking in some ways at Apple today. Bull to Sheriff Mitchum in a Wayne classic, “if you start liking me I’ll quit you for sure.” 👑

            6. The scythe, I employed as dual metaphor for Death harvesting souls, laying waste to the rich grain sprouting in the moraines of retreating ice sheets & to the strange folk who lived there, hardy and fierce but no match for the blade.

              Mayhap my heat at the idea of property being universal comes down from my Traveller heritage. Property has pacifically defined many tribes but has very often given rise to conveniently devised moral justification for atrocities against the Other.

            7. And we haven’t even given vent to the differences in the sexes with regard to strategies, methods of passive aggression, sense of family versus sense of tribe versus sense of world. If I threw in our propensity to believe almost anything to be absolutely true if it fits our inner world interpretation of experience, our heads would explode.

              We
              Are
              Complicated!

              I also serve excellent Uji green tea upon request.

            8. I thought you were a coffee person.

              Yes I live in earthquake country now. I still have a timeshare in Delaware. One day I may feel like traveling there to deal with it. I’d have a chance to see all my friends on the east coast, and maybe some in the midwest if the carrier has a stopover. I promise to stay on my meds.

            9. Ha! Me too. Delaware eh? The state of strange.

              I am coffee and tea. I have a good friend who may be the single expert on Japanese tea ceremony in the USA. He got me going on Uji green tea. I split my time locally between the cafés and the tea lounge.

              There’s an interesting parallel between my experiences with beer, coffee and tea. I thought all three, growing up, were awful. Something had to be wrong. I was correct. All three were VERY wrong in my youth. My parents never got beer better than Schlitz, Budweisser and Miller. Bleh. Their coffee was instant. OMFG. Their tea was Red Rose black. Blech.

              So I go live and work in London for a year. I learn about real ale from one of my pals. Heaven. I go work in Florida for a few years doing biology. A pal introduces me to REAL freshly ground coffee. ‘Oh sweet mystery of life at last…!’ I go work at Cornell U for a few years and my pal introduces me to real Japanese green tea. My Japan-o-phile conversion is complete. Never needs sugar or cream. Delicious and a wonderful energy buzz.

              You never did tell me how you’re doing with the horses.

              Oh, sorry folks. Just chatting way off topic.

            10. I live in a semi-rural neighbourhood. With lots of horse corrals and stables. Sometimes I ride with Margaret, a neighbor who lets her horse through her house, the dustiness is frightful but she is a dear so i say nothing. Retirement is a drag. Maybe that’s why I post on the Internet more these days. Maybe that’s why most non-trolls post on the internet—they’re retired, or indolent. I took up music as a hobby but haven’t yet found a muse…

    2. ALL TRIBES have a RIGHT to have their voices heard!

      The UNBALANCED reckoning is more and more conservative voices routinely and systematically silenced. Louis Lerner, anyone?

      The flip side of the coin is if this happened to a LEFTIST group, they would scream bloody murder until the front pages of left-leaning major newspapers caught fire.

      Bias is in the eye, and ultimately in control, of the gatekeeper. Unfortunately, the world’s largest cyber gate is permanently stained … 😡

      1. It was Lois Lerner. There’s a nightmare. It involves the finer points of the Fifth Amendment in her prosecution for her alleged crimes.

        With crap like that happening within our government…

        Clowns to the left of me,
        Jokers to the right, here I am,
        Stuck in the middle with you.

        – Stealers Wheel

  3. I guess if this is the case, then Fox News suppresses liberal views. Why is this Apple news? I need to stop reading this rag and switch to Apple Insider.

    1. Fox News is one outlet. Versus virtually the entire rest of the left-leaning “mainstream media” in the US.

      No wonder Fox News has higher ratings than CNN and MSNBC combined.

      1. No you are just extremely ignorant. The major media are owned by a handful of companies that also own defense industry companies etc. They do not challenge anything. You live in a fantasy world.
        The Fox News demographic is old, angry, and ignorant white people who are literally dying out but love to watch Faux News bleat their hate and ignorance as entertainment nonsense.

      2. No, Fox News has higher ratings because of sensationalism and feeding red meat to people who already agree with what they’re reporting. It’s an echo chamber.

        http://m.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv-movies/fox-news-viewers-informed-current-events-don-watch-news-study-finds-article-1.981257

        Watching fox actually decreases your knowledge of the world around you. And then there’s right wing hate radio which peddles conspiracy theories constantly. But it’s sensationalistic and appeals to a certain crowd that is very loud and noisy, who is over sampled.

        Registrations in the is country are decidedly not close to 50/50, and as of the 2012 election were as follows:

        42 million democrats
        30million republicans
        24 million independents

        *note some states do not report party affiliation.

        However statistically, Liberal leaning people outnumber conservative people in this country by a significant margin. So it stands to reason that in large metropolitan areas and states where people are of many different ethnicities and have to be tolerant and accepting of each other to get along, that would be the voting trend. It also stands to reasons that since most media outlets are in large cities they would follow those same trends. However, most media isn’t “liberal or conservative” it’s corporatist. So mdn’s comment about looking at the owners of the media outlets holds a lot of water.

        If you want an idea of how distorted “conservative news” can be however, go to conservapedia.com and read some of the articles. Most of them are completely devoid of facts, and deliberately slant information. Fox does the same thing, the only people on that network who seem to be allowed to go off script and be straight forward are Shepard smith, and Chris Wallace.

          1. Actually VoR is right. When corporate values come into conflict with either liberal or conservative values, it is the corporate values that win.

            Tons of important news, that would matter to everyone of either learning, get suppressed by both parties and ends of the political spectrum, because both parties want you to think that their two viewpoints are the only ones that matter.

            More intelligent/independent people recognize “liberal” and “conservative” are tribal labels reinforced by clusters of interest groups, not actually consistent world views.

            1. There is nothing “conservative” about racking up debt to fight an avoidable war. Nothing conservative about degrading individual freedom and creating secret all encompassing dossier’s on everyone in order to “protect” us.

              There is nothing “liberal” about signing trade agreements that actually are full of corporate protectionism instead of actually promoting free level trade.

              “Liberal” and “Conservative” are just flags the parties wave to fool people who can’t handle dealing with the truth that they are not just being screwed by one part, they are being screwed by both.

              Their biggest tactic of both parties is encouraging you to get so worked up about the crap the other party does that you won’t pay attention to the crap of the party you identify with.

        1. Fox News is the only media outlet that reported the Benghazi lies. The others were parroting the false White House talking points.

          Seems to me Fox News is providing more knowledge than the others.

          1. Except that they don’t. Hey also give air time to crazy conspiracy theories like “no go zones” and sharia law existing in the United States. Which are both completely false. And when called on their bullshit, they run a retraction on Saturday morning at 7 am when no one is watching. After relaying that kind of crap for weeks.

            And the Benghazi stuff was bad, but 9 congressional investigations when every single one turned up nothing? C’mon that’s the same bullshit as voting to repeal a law 54 times when you know the president will veto it anyway. It’s garbage. And fox made such a huge deal about Benghazi, but do you remember how they covered 9/11 for 7 years? …. Yeah, nobody in the bush administration was ever held accountable by them, and they cheered on the war in Iraq and parroted all the false thing Cheney said for YEARS. If you think fox tells the truth you’re out of your mind.

      1. This is more proof that Apple has lost its way. Time-wasting ad machines like Facebook or Twitter do not belong baked into any operating system.

        We all shuddered at the crapware that Wintel PCs used to have pre-installed. Now Apple pulls the same stunt, and makes this bloatware unable to be deleted from the user’s device, and the Apple worshippers just shrug their shoulders and accept the endless OS bloat that has happened at Apple the last several years.

        If Apple wants to right the ship, it needs a more efficient OS with less pre-installed crap and much better user interfaces.

        1. You don’t have to install Facebook or Twitter. The functionality is baked in, but you still have to download and install the apps. And they can be deleted… I deleted Facebook a couple months ago and am using safari now after the study on battery life. It’s helped significantly.

          1. I really don’t want to see these apps included in the default Apple preference panes at all. And when is Apple going to stop using Google as its default search engine? Is Cook really that hard up for the cash?

    2. No. They just ignore liberal views. Like their brethren on the other end of the spectrum, they’re under no obligation to promote the views they disagree with.

      Besides… views aren’t news.

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