Facebook has refused to respond to reports news curators at the social media giant are blacklisting stories at conservative outlets from featuring in users’ trending feeds.
A former contractor at Facebook recently gave an interview with Gizmodo in which he also alleged news curators were told to inject stories into users’ news feeds even if those stories didn’t pass the algorithm for popularity. Black Lives Matter was one such example cited by the former curator.
Conservative topics censored included stories about Mitt Romney, Sen. Rand Paul and the Conservative Political Action Conference. The curator who blew the whistle kept a very careful log of what news items and outlets were and weren’t blacklisted. Despite the fact these topics were shared enough by users to get picked up by the trending algorithm, curators reportedly went out of their way to bat these stories down. Curators either refused to let them feature as trending stories at all, or when conservative outlets broke stories, these same curators would only link to liberal organizations.
Facebook insists the trending feature on the site simply lists whatever happens to be popular, but based on reports from Gizmodo, this appears not to be the whole picture. Facebook has tremendous power and influence via news curation, and the trending feature dictates what 167 million U.S. users see, not to mention the users living outside the U.S.
This isn’t the first time Facebook has dealt with reports of aggressively blacklisting content. After pressure from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he would work to censor “hate speech” on the German version of Facebook. Zuckerberg confirmed in September, 2015, at a summit in New York that Facebook would crack down on “racist” speech arising in response to countless refugees streaming into Germany.
Facebook has not responded to a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation, but told Gizmodo last Tuesday the company does not “comment on rumor or speculation. As with all contractors, the trending review team contractors are fairly compensated and receive appropriate benefits.” However, that response from Facebook was mostly directed at how news curators, operating as contractors, were being treated by the company.
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