Former Facebook employees who curated the site’s trending news feed claim the company has had a political bias against stories that might appeal to conservatives.
In a report in Gizmodo, the former Facebook workers said colleagues would prevent stories about right-wing issues such as CPAC, Mitt Romney and Rand Paul from appearing in the influential section, despite the fact that such stories would organically trend among site users.
“Depending on who was on shift, things would be blacklisted or trending,” the former employee told Gizmodo. “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 news curators also claim they were instructed to artificially “inject” particular stories into the trending news section and were also told not to include news about Facebook itself.
The section of Facebook that is allegedly being manipulated helps dictate the news that is accessed by the site’s 167 million users in the United States alone.
“It was absolutely bias. We were doing it subjectively. It just depends on who the curator is and what time of day it is,” a different former employee told Gizmodo. “Every once in a while, a Red State or conservative news source would have a story. But we would have to go and find the same story from a more neutral outlet that wasn’t as biased.”
Drudge Report, Breitbart, Washington Examiner, and Newsmax are among the conservative new organizations that allegedly were flagged as suspect by Facebook curators.
“We take allegations of bias very seriously,” Facebook said in a statement. “Facebook is a platform for people and perspectives from across the political spectrum. Trending Topics shows you the popular topics and hashtags that are being talked about on Facebook. There are rigorous guidelines in place for the review team to ensure consistency and neutrality. These guidelines do not permit the suppression of political perspectives. Nor do they permit the prioritization of one viewpoint over another or one news outlet over another. These guidelines do not prohibit any news outlet from appearing in Trending Topics.”