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.
When the curators, hired by companies like BCForward and Pro Unlimited(which are then subcontracted through Accenture to provide workers for Facebook), arrive at work each day, they read through a list of trending topics ranked by Facebook’s algorithm from most popular (or most engaged) to least. The curators then determine the news story the terms are related to.
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.
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