As reported earlier today, tech site Gizmodo broke the story of former Facebook employees revealing that the company intentionally and regularly censored conservative news stories on it’s social media site. The confirmation of long speculated rumors about Facebook’s anti-conservative bias should’ve been a major news story but it was only covered by CNN and Fox News Channel. All three networks ignored the story on Monday night’s evening news broadcast. Top Spanish-language networks Univision and Telemundo also failed to report on the revelations.
In case you were wondering what was more important than this story, ABC’s World News Tonight Monday spent an entire segment on a “new weapon against anti-aging” asking, “Have scientists found face-lift in a bottle?”
At least cable news covered the story. As seen in the partial video clip below, CNN’s Jake Tapper did a full report on the story as well as Fox News Channel's Greta Van Susteren and Bret Baier.
The full transcript from the segment on The Lead with Jake Tapper May 9 follows.
JAKE TAPPER: Facebook's trending section may be how you heard about that thing that everyone's talking about in the office, you know that thing. But now a new report claims that according to a former Facebook employee, the social media megacompany sometimes ignores what is actually trending among its billion users if the story originated from a conservative news source or if it's a topic causing buzz among conservatives. Now, for their part, Facebook denies the allegations claiming they have procedures in place to assure neutrality in their trending section. Facebook said, "These guidelines do not permit the suppression of political perspectives nor do they permit the prioritization of one viewpoint over another one or one news outlet over another." For what it's worth the story alleging all of this is currently trending on Facebook. Let's talk to the guy who broke the story, Michael Nunez, he is the technology editor from gizmodo who broke it. Michael welcome. What did former employees tell you?
MICHAEL NUNEZ: Well what they told me was that there was a system in place that allowed them to either blacklist or inject stories that weren't trending into the news feed. So in a sense, there were human curators that were actually, you know, affecting what was showing up on Facebook's trending news feed. You know, for the last two years Facebook has maintained that it's been an algorithm sorting these topics, so we obviously found these revelations to be pretty interesting to say the least.
TAPPER: And why might Facebook executives or officials want to keep stories about people such as Mitt Romney or Ted Cruz or American sniper Chris Kyle off the trending list and inject others into its trending list? Why do that? Because of their own personal bias?
NUNEZ: Well, you know, so it's important to note that Facebook isn't manding this of the news curators. They have basically just tried to wash the existence of these curators from the Facebook planet. For the last two years they've been saying the algorithm doing the sorting. We have found a small group of 20 journalists that are recent graduates from east coast private school, often ivy league schools, are the ones activating a trend so that it can show up in your feed or blacklisting it. So, you know, it's not that Facebook has any bias here. It’s that these young journalists are the ones that are choosing what trends and what doesn't, and, you know, the question then becomes whether you trust recent graduates to determine what the most important news of the day is.
TAPPER: And quickly, if you could, Michael, did you find any evidence of political bias being applied the other way on liberal sites like msnbc.com or Daily Kos or Think Progress?
NUNEZ: No, we didn't find any evidence of that, but, you know, at least in one instance we had a source that was maintaining a list for the course of six-month period in which he found items like Chris Kyle, Ted Cruz, Mitt Romney, and a variety of other conservative news topics that were blacklisted by Facebook's news curators. And in that case, they weren't allowed to trend on the news site.