Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said although conservative publications may thrive on his platform, he doesn’t think of Facebook as a “right-wing echo chamber.”
Zuckerberg’s comments came during an interview with Axios on HBO on Tuesday night. At the same time, it’s indisputable that right-leaning outlets and publications have performed well on Facebook; TheWrap recently reported on The Daily Wire, spearheaded by conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, topping major outlets like The New York Times and CNN when it comes to Facebook engagement. Other right-leaning outlets like Fox News also routinely perform well on Facebook.
But that doesn’t equate to being an echo chamber, Zuckerberg said, because users are able to seek out their favorite outlets on Facebook — whether they come from the right or the left.
“Everyone can use their voice and find media they trust that reflects the opinions and life experiences they’re having,” Zuckerberg said.
The Daily Wire was the top publisher on Facebook in July, the most recent month data is available, according to research shared by data firm NewsWhip. The outlet had 98.9 million engagements for the month, or about 8 million more engagements than CNN, the next closest outlet. (Engagement counts all likes, reactions, comments and shares that a post receives.) Those figures easily blew past The New York Times, which had 61.5 million engagements, and The Washington Post’s 43.6 million engagements.
Zuckerberg, in his interview with Axios, said it’s true that “partisan content often has kind of a higher percent of people” engaging with it on Facebook. But he said it’s “important to differentiate that from, broadly, what people are seeing and reading and learning about on our service.”
One potential reason right-leaning outlets are thriving on Facebook, according to Stephen Miller, a contributor to Spectator USA and host of the Versus Media podcast, is because mainstream outlets offer few conservative voices; by not offering a conservative flavor, outlets are missing out on engagement from readers who are looking for alternative viewpoints. That’s driving Facebook users to publishers that offer right-leaning views, he said.
“Mainstream outlets have effectively phased out conservative voices and viewpoints at their networks and newspapers as they have clearly slid further left in ideology. Conservatives viewpoints have also largely been erased from Hollywood, on television programming, as well as academia,” Miller said. “So they are effectively all pooled into two places: Fox News and Facebook, whereas progressives on the left have several options to get their news so the audience is spread out more.”
To read TheWrap’s full report on the topic, click here.