Business Technology

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Facebook denies censoring politically conservative stories from the trending topics on its site

Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

Social media giant Facebook has denied allegations that it censored politically conservative stories from the trending topics on its site.

A report from Gizmodo, a design and technology blog, claim that former Facebook workers admitted that stories covered by conservative outlets that were popular 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.

Vice President of Search at Facebook, Tom Stocky denied the allegations on his Facebook page. “We take these reports extremely seriously, and have found no evidence that the anonymous allegations are true,” he said.

The workers also reportedly  told Gizmodo that they were instructed to “inject” selected stories into the trending news module, even if they weren’t popular enough to warrant inclusion or trending.

“There have been other anonymous allegations — for instance that we artificially forced ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ to trend. We looked into that charge and found that it is untrue. We do not insert stories artificially into trending topics, and do not instruct our reviewers to do so,” said Stocky.

After the report on Gizmodo, editors of the conservative sites expressed their concern about being overlooked by Facebook’s aggregators.

Breitbart News’s editor in chief, Alex Marlow, said the report confirmed “what conservatives have long suspected: Facebook’s trending news artificially mutes conservatives and amplifies progressives”.

Paul Bedard, DC reporter for the Washington Examiner, also accused the social media network on his Twitter account of “censoring conservatives”.

However after the claims, a story which might previously have been ignored was trending on Facebook. Under the headline “Facebook Trending” was a link to Gizmodo’s report on the allegations against Facebook.

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