Former Facebook employees claimed that the social network downplayed conservative news in favour of liberal left
Many conservatives and rightists will agree with this without blinking a eyelid. Facebook has apparently been curating trending lists item in order to hide conservative news stories. Former Facebook employees who worked as “curators” for Facebook’s trending topics section have revealed that the “trending” news section, claimed to be a reflection of “topics that have recently become popular on Facebook,” was routinely manipulated, and that conservative news stories were often suppressed, according to a report from Gizmodo.
A former employee told Gizmodo that when he or she would log on, they noticed popular conservative topics were left off the homepage list. The employee, a conservative, guessed that the person running the list “didn’t recognize the news topic” or was biased against a conservative figure involved.
Last week, Gizmodo published a story explaining the conditions behind the trending team, which is required to write headlines and summaries for dozens of news stories to be included on the website’s ticker. The workers, who were contracted, were told to omit news about Facebook itself, though Facebook did not have an explicit policy to remove right-leaning topics from the section.
One such former worker, a self-identified conservative, told Gizmodo he often saw popular conservative topics like Rand Paul or Mitt Romney missing from the trending news section when he started his shift.
“It wasn’t trending news at all,” said the worker, who kept a list of the missing topics and submitted them to Gizmodo. “It was an opinion.”
According to the worker, some of the missing topics included Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; the conservative Drudge Report; Lois Lerner, the IRS director who allegedly targeted conservative groups; and Navy SEAL Chris Kyle.
Another former employee told Gizmodo that if a story originated on a conservative news website, curators would look for a link to the story from a neutral outlet.
The “Trending” section appears on the right side of Facebook’s home page, next to the News Feed.
Employees also told the blog that the people running the “Trending” feature could include a topic into the list even if it was not among the most-discussed topics on Facebook.
Gizmodo notes that the curators are not alleging that Facebook management was actively suppressing conservative sites, just biased individual curators. “…[W]e were unable to determine if left-wing news topics or sources were similarly suppressed,” the report states.
According to Facebook, the section shows “topics that have recently become popular on Facebook… based on a number of factors including engagement, timeliness, Pages you’ve liked and your location.”
Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.