Facebook trending news engages in bias against so-called “conservative” news sources such as the Drudge Report, Breitbart, Newsmax, the Washington Examiner and Infowars in favor of establishment sources, including The New York Times, CNN and the BBC, according to former contractors.
“It was absolutely bias,” a former curator told Gizmodo. “Every once in awhile 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.”
In other words, the curators “subjectively” preferred establishment bias on stories about Rand Paul, CPAC, Mitt Romney and other topics considered conservative.
Moreover, curators would use an “injection tool” to promote stories that were not trending to boost visibility of particular issues and topics not “attaining critical mass on Facebook quickly enough.” Examples include the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris and the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Stories about Black Lives Matters were also artificially boosted on the popular social media network.
“Facebook got a lot of pressure about not having a trending topic for Black Lives Matter,” a curator said. “They realized it was a problem, and they boosted it in the ordering. They gave it preference over other topics. When we injected it, everyone started saying, ‘Yeah, now I’m seeing it as number one.’”
Last week we reported on an effort by the social media giant to blacklist a trending topic if it didn’t have at least three establishment news sources covering it. Curators were instructed to “select articles from a list of preferred media outlets that included sites like the New York Times, Time, Variety, and other traditional outlets,” according to Gizmodo’s Michael Nunez.
Facebook manipulates news in other ways as well. On Saturday, Infowars reported fans of the Alex Jones Facebook page not being uable to see a live Facebook Mentions video regarding the rise of Donald Trump. According to reports, normal notifications for the live video did not appear to alert page subscribers.
Facebook removed an article on GMO labeling in July. When users attempted to share the article, according to an Infowars report by Adan Salazar and Anthony Gucciardi, they were presented with a notification: “This message contains content that has been blocked by our security systems.”
The website also blocked an Infowars story about the rape of a Swedish woman by illegal immigrants last December. Facebook described the story as “xenophobic.”
The ban came after a meeting between Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. During the meeting, an open microphone caught Zuckerberg promising the German leader he would block anti-immigrant stories.
In September, it was reported German Minister of Justice Heiko Maas met with Facebook to form a special task force that will work to remove comments from the website that “call for hatred” against migrants. The organization will be overseen by Network Against Nazis, a group led by left-wing activist Anetta Kahane, Paul Joseph Watson reported. Kahane worked as a Stasi informant under the codename “Victoria” from 1974-1982. The Stasi, which liaised with the Soviet KGB, was the official secret police of the former Communist government of East Germany.
News manipulation at Facebook should not come as a surprise. Facebook’s second round of funding came from venture capital firm Accel Partners. Its manager James Breyer was formerly chairman of the National Venture Capital Association and served on the board with Gilman Louie, CEO of In-Q-Tel, a venture capital firm established by the CIA in 1999. One of the company’s key areas of expertise is in “data mining technologies,” writesMatt Greenop.
During the Church Committee hearings in the 1970s, it was discovered the CIA had manipulated the media since the early 1950s.
“The CIA currently maintains a network of several hundred foreign individuals around the world who provide intelligence for the CIA and at times attempt to influence opinion through the use of covert propaganda. These individuals provide the CIA with direct access to a large number of newspapers and periodicals, scores of press services and news agencies, radio and television stations, commercial book publishers, and other foreign media outlets,” a report produced by the commission explained in 1976.
Additionally, also beginning in the 1950s, the CIA worked with the Ford Foundation to undermine anti-establishment influence in media and produce cultural propaganda.