Contrary to its claims that Trending stories were selected automatically, Facebook used a team of hand-picked leftist journos that routinely suppressed “conservative” news. Facebook denies that but its Guidelines had an obvious effect: a very aggressive filtering out of conservative news.
Gizmodo, May 9, 2016: Former Facebook Workers: We Routinely Suppressed Conservative News (1)
Facebook workers routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network’s influential “trending” news section, according to a former journalist who worked on the project. This individual says that workers prevented stories about the right-wing CPAC gathering, 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.
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.
Imposing human editorial values onto the lists of topics an algorithm spits out is by no means a bad thing—but it is in stark contrast to the company’s claims that the trending module simply lists “topics that have recently become popular on Facebook.”
Stories covered by conservative outlets (like Breitbart, Washington Examiner, and Newsmax) that were trending enough to be picked up by Facebook’s algorithm were excluded unless mainstream sites like the New York Times, the BBC, and CNN covered the same stories.
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.
A notable bit from another Gizmodo article: Want to Know What Facebook Really Thinks of Journalists? Here’s What Happened When It Hired Some (2):
After doing a tour in Facebook’s news trenches, almost all of them [news curators, mostly left-leaning journalists] came to believe that they were there not to work, but to serve as training modules for Facebook’s algorithm.
Even the Guardian, a fellow fake news publisher, wrote: Facebook news selection is in hands of editors not algorithms, documents show (3)
The internal Facebook document, Trending Review Guidelines [Internal Facebook Use Only], is posted on the web at https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/2830513/Facebook-Trending-Review-Guidelines.pdf
The Guidelines guarantee that only Left-approved topics would be included as National Stories:
National Story: You should mark a topic as “National Story” importance if it is among the 1-3 top stories of the day. We measure this by checking if it is leading at least 5 of the following 10 news websites: BBC News, CNN, Fox News, The Guardian, NBC News, The New York Times, USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Yahoo News or Yahoo.
Thus, only 2 out of 10 approved news websites are conservative. But the story should be leading in at least 5 of the 10 approved websites to even be considered a national story! Further, the list includes two foreign sources (BBC and The Guardian) that are very unlikely to have leading U.S. stories that are not far left. To clear the inclusion threshold, a “conservative” story should lead at Fox News, WSJ, and at least half of the remaining liberal/leftist outlets. In essence, Facebook created a very aggressive filter against conservative news.
Facebook was doing that even before Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft signed a notorious code of conduct with the European Union on May 31, 2016.