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Irony: Nets Shocked by Accusations of Liberal Bias…at Facebook

by | May 11, 2016

By Kyle Drennen

FacebookthumbsdownOn Tuesday, all three network morning shows expressed shock and dismay at allegations that Facebook censored conservative political news from its supposed trending news feed. At the top of NBC’s Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie declared:“Censored by Facebook? The popular social network being accused of routinely suppressing conservative stories from its trending feed. The claim coming from former workers.”

In the report that followed minutes later, fill-in co-host Natalie Morales worried: “Well, now to this troubling accusation leveled against Facebook that’s getting a lot of attention this morning.” She noted that social media company was “scrambling to respond to surprising accusations of political bias.”

Morales detailed the charges:

After a report released Monday by the website Gizmodo, which says that the team of Facebook employees in charge of the site’s trending list had intentionally suppressed articles from conservative news sources. These news curators say they’re coming forward to reveal they were also instructed to artificially inject selected stories into the trending news module….According to a former journalist who worked on the project, “Workers prevented stories about Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and other conservative topics from appearing in the highly-influential section, even though they were organically trending among the site’s users.”

After citing denials from Facebook, Morales read a statement from the Republican National Committee: “It is beyond disturbing to learn that this power is being used to silence viewpoints and stories that don’t fit someone else’s agenda.”

On ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos announced:“…that backlash brewing against Facebook. The social media site accused of keeping conservative news stories off its trending list.” The headline on screen read: “Facebook Firestorm?; Site Denies it Censored Conservative Stories.”

Correspondent Rebecca Jarvis reported: “A former Facebook employee now speaking out anonymously to tech blog Gizmodo, claiming that Facebook workers intentionally suppressed conservative news stories from that list….The former Facebook insider calling it, quote, ‘absolutely biased,’ saying, ‘we were doing it subjectively.’”

On CBS This Morning, co-host Norah O’Donnell informed viewers: “Facebook this morning is defending itself against accusations of political bias. An article posted Monday on the tech news site Gizmodo said Facebook workers suppressed conservative-leaning news stories in its trending section.”

Despite all the headlines over claims of liberal bias at Facebook, none of the broadcasts saw the irony of their own reporting being slanted on a daily basis – especially with regard to the stories they choose to cover and ignore.

The CBS morning show actually interviewed Gizimodo editor Michael Nunez, who got the major scoop. The hosts repeatedly attempted to poke holes in the story.

After Nunez remarked “that a select group of about 20 journalists, young 20-somethings, often Ivy-League educated…are the ones that are sorting through the news feed and determining…what people are able to see,” O’Donnell pressed: “I thought that was interesting that you pointed out that they were from Ivy League schools. What are you trying to imply?”

Nunez explained: “Well, I think that there’s a selection bias with these editors, right?…I think that we just tried to report the information as we saw it. So in this case, we saw that these students were primarily east-coast educated and we reported that.”

O’Donnell continued: “Now, you write, however, in your article, quote, ‘There is no evidence that Facebook management mandated or was even aware of any political bias at work’…. So there’s no indication that management had anything – this was some rogue employees or?”

Nunez countered: “No, I don’t think it was rogue employees. I would call it an institutional failure….that they’ve set up a system that allows for human bias to enter – to impact what people are able to see in their feeds.”

Fellow co-host Charlie Rose parroted Facebook talking points: “Facebook said popular topics are first surfaced by an algorithm then audited by a review team that is not allowed to discriminate. It says it has designed its tools to make discrimination technically not feasible.”

Nunez replied: “…certainly they can say that as much as they want. But you know, the fact is that we have evidence of them blacklisting, in a lot of cases, conservative news.”

Co-host Gayle King was incredulous: “And they would want to censor it why, Michael? Why would they want to censor it?” Nunez speculated:

I don’t think it was an intentional bias that’s at play here. I think this is just a system that they’ve put in place that allows people to inflate news….So they can also blacklist news. And so, you know, I think when we discovered that they were both inflating – artificially inflating and also suppressing news, that calls into question the legitimacy of the trending topics entirely, right? These aren’t exactly trending topics, they’re being selected by an editorial board.

Editor’s note. This appeared at Newsbusters.

Categories: Free Speech