- The Washington Times - Monday, May 9, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

A former Facebook worker admitted to Gizmodo that they routinely suppressed conservative news stories from the network’s “trending” news section.

The employee, who was a journalist who worked on the Facebook application, said workers at the Silicon Valley behemoth prevented stories about the conservative gathering CPAC, Mitt Romney and Rand Paul from appearing on the site, even though they were actually trending among the sites 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 technology blog reported. “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.”

Surprise, surprise. What appears in Facebook’s “trending” box isn’t based on any sophisticated algorithms at all — it’s simply an output of journalistic judgment. Much like the front-page of a newspaper is decided by editors choosing what is most newsworthy, Facebook is doing the same — it just wants you to think it’s all organic.

Last week, Gizmodo reported on Facebook’s trending news team — essentially that it consists of young journalists from Ivy League schools, many of whom share a liberal worldview. They both can see what is actually “trending,” produced by Facebook’s own internal algorithm, and then can prioritize the topics, give them headlines and link to news sites.

Gizmodo said 167 million people in the U.S. are reading this page at any given time — making it a very powerful news source.

“Depending on who was on shift, things would be blacklisted or trending,” the former curator told Gizmodo. “I’d come on shift, and I’d discover that CPAC 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 employee took notes of what was suppressed in a daily notebook.

The topics included “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,” Gizmodo reported.

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