The Big Think

May 9, 2016

All The News That’s Fit To Tell You

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 5:54 pm

Former Facebook Workers: We Routinely Suppressed Conservative News: “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 former curators, all of whom worked as contractors, also said they were directed not to include news about Facebook itself in the trending module.

‘I believe it had a chilling effect on conservative news..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 curator was so troubled by the omissions that they kept a running log of them at the time; this individual provided the notes to Gizmodo. 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.

Other former curators interviewed by Gizmodo denied consciously suppressing conservative news, and we were unable to determine if left-wing news topics or sources were similarly suppressed.

Managers on the trending news team did, however, explicitly instruct curators to artificially manipulate the trending module in a different way: When users weren’t reading stories that management viewed as important, several former workers said, curators were told to put them in the trending news feed anyway.

…When stories about Facebook itself would trend organically on the network, news curators used less discretion—they were told not to include these stories at all. ‘When it was a story about the company, we were told not to touch it,’ said one former curator. ‘It had to be cleared through several channels, even if it was being shared quite a bit. We were told that we should not be putting it on the trending tool.’

‘We were always cautious about covering Facebook,’ said another former curator. ‘We would always wait to get second level approval before trending something to Facebook. Usually we had the authority to trend anything on our own [but] if it was something involving Facebook, the copy editor would call their manager, and that manager might even call their manager before approving a topic involving Facebook.’

I’m waiting for the online counterargument to go from “this couldn’t possibly have happened” to “well, all news is biased so this isn’t really a big deal”.

What’s a big deal is getting a filtered view of reality when you think you’re getting the straight information, and trying to make decisions based on that assumption.

All the people in favor of this sort of corruption are only in favor of it because it helps their side. Give it to me straight and let me make up my own mind. 

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