Former Facebook Workers: We Routinely Suppressed [a Certain Political Slant] News

One day when I was an undergraduate working for one of two competing student papers, two rallies were held on opposite sides of the downtown mall. One group held signs like “Keep your laws off my body,” and “Keep abortion safe and legal,” and the other group held signs like “It’s a child, not a choice” and “Abortion stops a beating heart.”

The student paper I did not work for ran a story that noted the rallies were about equal in size, and included four direct quotations and one paraphrase from named people who attended the rally on one side of the issue, but merely quoted the signs waved by people on the other side of the issue.

When I tell that story to my journalism students, I add the coda, “If you haven’t made up your mind whether that one-sided story is a good or a bad thing because you are waiting for me to tell you whether the story shares the bias that you hold, then you’re missing the point of a journalism class.”

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 11.24.46 AMFacebook’s news section operates like a traditional newsroom, reflecting the biases of its workers and the institutional imperatives of the corporation. 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.” —Gizmodo

Update, 2:25pm:

imageThe Facebook news curation story is trending on Twitter, but not Facebook.