An examination by the Gizmodo blog
of whether Facebook pushes a specific political agenda by deftly selecting what type of news its users are exposed to has generated concern among conservative news outlets that they are being sidelined, if not outright blacklisted.
The blog reports said that a small group of like-minded people at Facebook control what constitutes trending news. Their importance is magnified because an item appearing in that section can boost clicks by many thousands and help set the agenda for any day.
Gizmodo says that its investigation showed that these "news curators" are instructed to pick items from preferred media sites without adhering to an impartial standard.
Stuart Varney, host of Fox Business Network's "Varney & Co.," talked about the Gizmodo item on his show, describing in detail how the preferred sites pushed by Facebook are almost always left of center, which helps steer people towards a certain viewpoint and obscures other topics they don't like.
gave a specific example of how a topic can be skewed to promote a certain agenda, even when the real news of the day was the opposite. It described how a pro-life activist claims that a video featuring details about harvesting the brains of a baby while its heart was still beating at a Planned Parenthood clinic was in numerous social media posts, but the trending section in Facebook steered users towards a much more favorable article about the clinics.
New York Magazine
made an even blunter point, asking if Facebook could help swing the presidential election. It spoke to a communications professor, the University of Delaware's Paul Brewer, who said that "The way that you present information on Facebook [particularly given its enormous size of more than a billion active users] can have subtle but meaningful effects on people's moods, their attitudes," especially by trying to target uncommitted or apathetic voters.
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