Social Question

NerdyKeith's avatar

Do you believe Facebook have been censoring their trending topics?

Asked by NerdyKeith (5439points) May 10th, 2016

A report by Gizmodo said staff who aggregated content for Facebook were encouraged to ignore news from fringe conservative sites such as Breitbart until it appeared on more mainstream sites such as CNN.

Facebook has since denied the claims. But do you actually believe they are telling the truth? I don’t think this is the first time they have been accused of censorship.

Source: The Guardian

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25 Answers

Jak's avatar

Something shady, underhanded and manipulative going on in the realm of mass media? IMPOSSIBLE SIR! I challenge you to prove such a theory, or retract it instantly, otherwise I shall be forced to prove it upon your person!

johnpowell's avatar

Gizmodo + anonymous sources. The facts are flying out of the unicorns butthole.

Certainly Facebook is showing you what it thinks you want to see. If they didn’t you would go off to someplace else and they would lose ad impressions.

And really.. I don’t see the problem even if they did. What is the difference between Facebook and NPR or Redstate. Show whatever you want.

NerdyKeith's avatar

@johnpowell Well I do go off someplace else (aka Twitter) lol But I get your point.

At the end of the day Facebook is not a news network, so I guess they are not really obligated to showcase a broad spectrum of newsworthy trending topics.

canidmajor's avatar

It’s not censoring, it’s choosing (maybe with bias) what to recommend. It’s not, as you say, a news source, and has never been considered one.
The fuss is silly, and probably a marketing stunt by Gizmodo.

zenvelo's avatar

Part of it is evaluating the news source, only posting credible sources. I find that prudent, not censoring.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

It’s hardly surprising that a media outlet is censoring their content. The thing that surprises me is the extreme arrogance, invasiveness and attempt at intimidation of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce (which has jurisdiction over media issues) in their Letter of Inquiry to Mark Zuckerberg. From the Letter:

1) Please describe Facebook’s organization structure for the Trending Topics feature, and the steps for determining included topics. Who is ultimately responsible for approving its content?

2) Have Facebook news curators in fact manipulated the content of the Trending Topics section, either by targeting news stories related to conservative views for exclusion or by injecting non-trending content?

3) What steps is Facebook taking to investigate claims of politically motivated manipulation of news stories in the Trending Topics section? If such claims are substantiated, what steps will Facebook take to hold the responsible individuals accountable?

4) In a statement responding to the allegations, Facebook has claimed to have “rigorous guidelines in place for the review team” to prevent “the suppression of political perspectives” or the “prioritization of one viewpoint ver another or one news outlet over another.”

a. When did Facebook first introduce these guidelines?

b. Please provide a copy of these guidelines, as well as any changes or amendments since January 2014.

c. Does Facebook provide training for its employees related to these guidelines? If so, describe what the training consists of, as well as its frequency.

d. How does Facebook determine compliance with these guidelines? Does it conduct audits? If so, how often? What steps are taken when a violation occurs?

5) Does Facebook maintain a record of curators decisions to inject a story into the Trending Topics section or target a story for removal? If such a record is not maintained, can such decisions be reconstructed or determined based on an analysis of the Trending Topics product?

a. If so, how many stories have curators excluded that represented conservative viewpoints or topics of interest to conservatives? How many stories did curators inject that were not, in fact, trending?

b. Please provide a list of all news stories removed from or injected into the Trending Topics section since January 2014.

If I were Zuckerberg, I would find the tone of this Inquiry shocking, unfounded, unduly invasive and expected of a police state, not the “Land of the Free”—and I would say so loudly. I would also publicly ask if FOX or MSNBC had ever been asked to answer similar Inquiries.

Billionaire Zuckerberg needs to remind these arrogant fucks who they work for.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

EDIT: I would like to add to the last line—for all of our sakes.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Frankly any site that’s owned by Gawker Media (as Gizmodo is) has absolutely zero credibility (and even less journalistic ethics) as far as I’m concerned.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar


Reuters, dude.

The Senate was punked by Gizmodo via Anonymous. It still doesn’t excuse their extreme arrogance in this matter. It also highlights the Senate Committee that has jurisdiction over media matters ignorance of media matters when they can be punked like this..

Dutchess_III's avatar

As Snopes said, it’s “unconfirmed,” dude.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

The story is not about the accusation of Facebook censoring their content anymore. It’s about the Senate being punked by an unconfirmed Gizmodo article and their ham fisted reaction toward Zuckerberg with that obnoxious Letter of Inquiry..

Buttonstc's avatar

Yes, it’s the ham-fisted authoritarian response by “big brother” which I find alarming.

I was yawning up until you posted the contents of that letter. I think it behooves us all to wonder about why the government over reaction.

Dutchess_III's avatar

What am I missing guys? There was a possible (and as yet unconfirmed) suppression of speech going on, in the biggest social forum in the world. What’s not to over react about?

Pandora's avatar

Does it matter. It’s not a new media. It’s a social media. Go to this link on facebook rules .
Pretty much it let you know that they can keep and will keep certain things out. I can see fringe sites falling under dangerous organizations, hate speech and violent and graphic contents.
They do not have an obligation to let organizations post on facebook or anyone for that matter. They can block people too.
It’s like showing up to a place with no shoes and pants. Just because it’s open to the public doesn’t mean there isn’t a dress code that everyone must follow. Btw, a lot of these so call organization spam the hell out of regular people. You read one article and suddenly you have a whole thread from their organization. I report all spam on my facebook account.

Cruiser's avatar

No…I believe the media and Facebook are in cahoots to make us believe it is so…Facebooks is less and less relevant and stories like this only emphasize how desperate they are to compete with Instagram and Popchat.

Darth_Algar's avatar


Suppression of speech? Last I checked Facebook was a privately-owned entity. They’re not obligated to give anyone a platform to say anything.

rojo's avatar

No, more crap.

canidmajor's avatar

@Dutchess_III: There is no suppression of speech! I’ll say it again, it’s someone choosing what to recommend as “trending”. Choices were made. Facebook has never billed itself as a hard news outlet. Just because you get most of your information from them does not make them a news service.

dabbler's avatar

I don’t understand what’s the story here?!
Since Reagan’s de-regulation of the media, “news” doesn’t have to be the news, it’s whatever gets an audience.
Nobody goes after Fox or CNN or NBC or NPR for ‘censoring’ the ‘news’ they present, and Facebook hardly pretends to be a news medium.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I have no idea, and it is not the business of the US Senate to investigate news gathering and presentation.

This is right-wing-sponsored masturbation, no more and more no less.

Jak's avatar

I laughed when I briefly saw something about this on the news this morning. My roommate had it on, btw. I heard them say that conservatives were upset about it and I just cracked up. Sounds like a bunch of cry babies nor content with getting to skew fox “news” and however many other outlets they control, but a freaking social network on the internet is out of their grasp so they want an investigation! I’m still laughing.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Facebook is indeed breaking it’s own rules regarding algorithm chosen content.

Several Facebook employees and contractors has said so.

Technically not cool.

However one can choose to not use Facebook, choose to not turn to Facebook for their news, or think for themselves instead of relying on Facebook to check the pulse of humanity.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Another thought:

Conservatives are being hypocritical here. The free market should decide if Facebook is doing the right thing. If people dislike it, they will leave.

Government involvement, I thought, was anathema to the right wing. So why is the senate involved?

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