Ready for a handful of liberal news sources and a maybe a conservative or two? How about a computer program that chooses what stories you should read? Facebook’s upcoming “News Tab” already sounds suspect. Especially, in light of previous attempts by the company to control its news feed.
Facebook “will pay dozens of publishers to license content for News Tab, and news from many more will be included.” In Axios’ exact words “A small team of journalists will pick stories for a Top News section.”
Facebook previously killed its Trending Topics section after not only being accused of bias, but having its own employees whistleblow its agenda setting. As Gizmodo summarized “according to a former journalist who worked on the project” Tech news website Gizmodo wrote “workers prevented stories about the right-wing CPAC gathering, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and other conservative topics from appearing in the highly-influential section, even though they were organically trending among the site’s users.”
In addition, many of Facebook’s “news curators” told Gizmodo that they were told to “inject” specific stories into the trending news section. The former curators also claimed that Facebook, protecting its own hide, discouraged them from including news about Facebook itself.
Facebook’s head of news partnerships Campbell Brown, formerly an anchor at NBC and CNN, claimed that algorithms will also be involved. “Our goal with the News tab is to provide a personalized, highly relevant experience ... The majority of stories people will see will appear in the tab via algorithmic selection," she wrote.
Algorithms are capable of bias based upon the creators who made them, a point often made by the left. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)spoke at an MLK Now event on January 21 where she claimed algorithms, "always have these racial inequities that get translated… if you don't fix the bias, then you're just automating the bias."
If a programmer trains an algorithm to filter out an opinion as extreme or hateful for example, a critical story could be made to never see the light of day.
According to Axios, Facebook execs told them that “they're hiring seasoned journalists to help curate a forthcoming ‘News Tab’ that they hope will change how millions get news.”
The mission, as Axios described “is an effort by Facebook to restore the sanity and credibility that's lost in the chaos of our main feeds.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has had this plan in the works for some time. As the The Wall Street Journal recounted, “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed the possibility of creating the news section earlier this year during a conversation with Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner.” The Big Tech CEO proclaimed his commitment both to “more high-quality news” as well as establishing a “business model and ecosystem to support it.”