New York Magazine Writer: Conservatives Like ‘Highly Emotional’ Stories That Have ‘Only a Tenuous Connection’ to Reality

September 2nd, 2016 9:02 PM

Shorter version of Brian Feldman’s Wednesday article for New York magazine: Sure, Mark Zuckerberg’s a genius, but he still hasn’t come up with a foolproof way to keep Facebook from promoting right-wing propaganda. “Facebook’s problem isn’t that it suppresses ‘conservative news’ or allows ‘fake news,’” wrote Feldman. “It’s that those two categories are increasingly indistinguishable.”

This past May, Gizmodo reported that Facebook curators “routinely” gave short shrift to conservative-friendly news stories. Feldman noted that Facebook recently “replaced the human selection-and-summarization process with an automated sorting procedure…Human bias eliminated! Except that the new Trending widget…selected and highlighted an article from a site called End the Fed reporting that Megyn Kelly had been fired for backing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. That article, in turn, cited the similarly dubious website Conservative 101. None of it was true.”

Feldman called the bogus Kelly story “just one small example” of what he alleged is a common practice: conservative activists using Facebook to disseminate “highly emotional stories with only a tenuous connection to the truth…Engagement on Facebook -- especially on political Facebook, and especially in conservative political Facebook -- is generally fueled more by a given post’s ability to stoke passion in its readers, rather than by old-fashioned qualities like…‘accuracy.’”

That said, slanted righty media considerably predates Facebook (bolding added):

The distinctly Roger Ailesian technique of a sustained barrage of soundbites and catchphrases and unfounded speculation has been particularly characteristic of conservative-leaning media since long before social media started to matter in elections…

[For example,] Fox continues to chase theories about Benghazi, a trumped-up political fiasco that has long since been investigated and closed…When the most respectable conservative outlets steer so close to outright lying, you can imagine that their less accountable peers are driving directly into it.