There’s a very interesting response from Facebook to Senator John Thune, who took Facbeook to task over the possibility of the publicly accessible social network potentially having its content curators and trend managers block out Conservative topics from trending on the network. According to Facebook, they investigated themselves and found themselves not guilty.
While the verdict is completely expected, what was illuminated in the letter to Senator Thune was that yes they do admit to having content curators controlling what’s trendy on Facebook, and they also admit that some of those content curators may have left their confirmation bias get the best of them, thus creating political bias in the trends being injected into Facebook. However, they deny specifically and pointedly directing trends away from Conservative topics.
“Suppressing political content or preventing people from seeing what matters most to them is directly contrary to Facebook’s mission and our business objectives. When anonymous allegations of political bias recently surfaced in relation to Facebook’s Trending Topics feature, we immediately launched an investigation to determine if anyone violated the integrity of the feature or acted in ways that are inconsistent with Facebook’s policies and mission.”
“[…] Our investigation has revealed no evidence of systematic political bias in the selection or prominence of stories included in the Trending Topics feature.”
While denying that there was any political bias and claiming that Conservative and Liberal views have been equally promoted and trending on Facebook, they go on to contradict themselves by claiming that they will improve their guidelines and terminology as well as further train their content reviewers when it comes to “injecting” trends into Facebook’s feed, stating in the letter…
“We have already updated terminology in our Guidelines and conducted refresher training for all reviewers that emphasized that content decisions may not be made on the basis of politics or ideology.”
“We will institute additional controls and oversight around the review team, including robust escalation procedures.”
Most telling is the fact that they admit that they pull trends based on a pool of limited websites that cater content to what they would consider to be “trendy”. This was mentioned in the tell-all on the Gizmodo piece where former Facebook employees mentioned that Facebook uses a small pool of websites for which they base their trends around, which conveniently turned out to be mostly left-leaning sites.
According to the Facebook letter, they claim they will eliminate their reliance on these “external websites”, writing…
“We will eliminate our reliance on external websites and news outlets to identify, validate, or assess the importance of trending topics. This means that we will discontinue use of the top-10 list of news outlets, the Media 1K list, and the RSS feed.”
Technically, they never should have been force-filtering the feeds in the first place. It reeks of indoctrination.
Despite claiming that they will no longer try to inculcate Facebook readers with specific worldviews from specific outlets, there have been claims from pundits like Lauren Southern that Facebook is still censoring users on an individual level who share Conservative news or point out Facebook’s alleged habitual practices of silencing Conservative media, as reported by the Daily Mail
Southern did a video explaining how she was briefly banned from Facebook over a post pointing out that Facebook was censoring Conservative views. The irony is literally palpable. The video was posted up over on Rebel Media.
The idea that the simple tools used to share information and inform others about the seemingly innocuous minutiae of everyday life are trying to control and dictate how people think about life, politics and entertainment is a frightening concept.
Whether Facebook knows it or not, them admitting that they have control curators controlling what appears in your trending feed is enough to certify that Facebook isn’t just in the business of invading your privacy but they’re also in the business of thought control.
(Main image courtesy of Digital Trends)