Facebook Accused of Bias for Suppressing Conservative News Outlets

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Christine Beswick

Social media giant Facebook is making headlines daily now, with one recent accusation centering around an old argument of conservative bias on Facebook reports the New York Post. Facebook is being accused of suppressing conservative news outlets and expressing bias against them. Particularly, the right-wing outlet Breitbart News is undergoing some problems on Facebook.

Employees of Facebook have been working to remove Breitbart News from the News Tab since last year. At this time, other conservative news outlets are not expressing similar concerns.

Breitbart a Primary Focus

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One Facebook employee indicated to the New York Post that this move was due to lack of trust in Breitbart, something that they said was also happening with CNN two years ago. The staffer appeared to be implying that there was no conservative bias, and that the issues had been in play for some time.

By 2020, Facebook had third-party fact-checkers employed to monitor the amount of strikes against false content. The stipulation there was strictly false content. One report indicates that the complaints tended to lean towards more often against conservative outlets.

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Facebook Braces for More Bad News

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It may be the case that Facebook is downplaying the accusation of conservative bias, given the myriad of headlines including the word “safety” this week, and in previous months. Axios has obtained a memo written by Facebook Global Affairs Vice President Nick Clegg saying, “we need to steel ourselves for more bad headlines in the coming days, I’m afraid.”

It continued, “But above all, we should keep our heads held high and do the work we came here to do.” Clegg noted Facebook’s $13 billion dollar investment and 40,000 employees, saying the “one job” was to “keep people safe on Facebook.”

Keeping People Safe on Facebook

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Facebook’s safety concerns are connected to the leaked material by former Facebook integrity team employee Frances Haugen shared with the media. An attempted embargo on that information has failed, and the company may be expecting more information on that to come to light.

The embargo failed when a new whistleblower told the Securities and Exchange Commission that Facebook was repeatedly dismissing concerns about hate speech and misinformation.

It is not so inconceivable under this light to see some merit to the claim that Facebook could express bias towards any news outlet, conservative or otherwise. Facebook rejects it, with Facebook communications official Tucker Bounds calling hate speech claims a “flash in the pan” and suggested legislators will get snarky over this. That’s already happened with Facebook over separate issues. Bounds may be predicting it could happen again.

History Might Be Repeating

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In October 2020, multiple social media giants including Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, and Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai testified for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation about how they moderate content.

That hearing was described as a "circus" by NBC News who said that Senator Ted Cruz promoted it “like boxing match.” The complaint was the same, that Republicans were being stifled and specific posts were being suppressed. The data didn’t match that. Media Matters conducted “study after study” that indicated conservative content was performing better than liberal content consistently.

In October 2020, the top-performing posts were owned by Donald Trump, Daily Wire co-founder Ben Shapiro, and conservative news reporter Dan Bongino. Areas where conservatives alleged censorship indicated that these areas were actually examples of social media rules violations, and weren’t censorship at all.

Tucker Bounds prophecy of snarky legislators may come true if history repeats itself and these newest allegations come before the United States Senate.

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