Former Facebook staff say they routinely manipulated trending news topics


#1

[Read the post]


#2


#3

This is why I’ve abandoned Facebook for my news, and only read Buzzfeed now. I’m currently deep in to a story about seventeen different vegetable side dishes. Number seven, I’m told, will be a real surprise.


#4

In all seriousness though. I’d be surprised if Facebook hadn’t been manipulating the news feed.


#5

I’m actually annoyed that they don’t suppress more of the topics that show up. Despite having once put effort into saying “I don’t care about this” on anything relating to pop culture like Bieber or the Kardashians or some fight between musical artists I don’t know or listen to, those types of topics still pop up regularly.

And the only reason I’m on Facebook is because friends and family were too entrenched to move to something else when better options arose!

/rant


#6

OMG the Drudge report was banned as a news source? But they have such great journalistic integrity!!

“SHOCK: McCAIN VOLUNTEER ATTACKED AND MUTILATED IN PITTSBURGH - “B” carved into 20 yr old Woman’s Face”

Woman Names Bill Clinton Father Of Son In Shocking Video Confession


#7

Former Facebook staff say they routinely manipulated trending news topics


#8

Probably off-topic, and I’m not sure what this says about me, but when I saw the pic Rob posted with this story I immediately thought of goatse.


#9

The ‘it’s the algorithm’ never made any sense, because FB’s users are mostly mouth-breathing morons who prefer to pass around salacious and mostly false gossip - i.e. normal people. You’d hardly get any real news at all if you left it up to the users.

One time you got to see this happen was when Ferguson was all over Twitter (which on the other side of this tends to blow even minor news wildly out of proportion because they love being in a garment-rending frenzy) but Facebook was all Ice Bucket Challenge, apparently because FB’s news department thought Ferguson might be too much of a downer or something. Profits suggest the FB approach might work better for the company, but Twitter makes so many other terrible choices it’s hard to tell.


#10

If it weren’t for the trending topics sidebar, I wouldn’t even know that Justin Bieber had a face tattoo. To find out that it is curated makes me sad for the people whose job that is.


#11

Still waiting for a story about Facebook that makes me regret leaving.


#12

I’m glad this won’t play into the old “lib’rul media” or “persecuted xtian” tropes that are so fun to kick around these days. :crying_cat_face:


#13

Me too, except I never joined.


#14


#15

Yeah, that’s the question I’m asking. Facebook has a pretty widely publicized initiative to cut down on fake stories, misinformation and the like, that’s no secret. Are these sites(Which, by strange coincidence, seem to be the more notoriously bullshit-filled sites like Brietbart) getting suppressed, or are they getting caught up in the larger effort to cut down on fake news and misinformation, because they publish a shitload of fake news and misinformation and their political affiliation never played into it. It’s a small distinction, but an important one. Because, let’s not forget, bulllshit is bullshit, regardless of political affiliation, the stink doesn’t change depending on which side of the cow it falls to.


#16

“Manipulated” is such an ugly word. We prefer “Curated”.

In all seriousness, though, this seems like something that is more or less implied by the existence of the job that those staff were formerly doing.

If by ‘trending’ you actually mean some statistical measure of how often a given link is posted, followed, etc. then why hire a bunch of journalism types to handle it? That’s a clear job for one of your data-crunchers(who probably costs a lot more than the journalists; but will pay off fast once the algorithm comes up to speed).

If this was part of Facebook’s play(which they have been making fairly aggressively) to try to get assorted media outlets to step into the walled garden, then the existence of a human editorial team makes a lot more sense; as does the fact that matters deemed newsworthy and stories-from-our-partners-rather-than-competing-websites might get the nod markedly more frequently than community opinion would suggest.

I suspect that part of my failure to be surprised or shocked is just down to ‘well, of course facebook is manipulative and conniving, and reality has a liberal bias’ but this just seems about as surprising, and about as non-horrifying, as discovering that ‘letters to the editor’ represents a handpicked selection that is markedly less crazy than the editor’s actual mailbag.


#17

I don’t want to be the straw-postmodernist(which is why I’m only going to accuse you of ‘committing epistemic violence by privileging a hegemonic empiricism over other legitimate ways of knowing’ in jest and because it’s a fun phrase); but I get the depressing impression that being anti-bullshit is widely perceived as having an anti-conservative bias.

This isn’t to say that bullshit isn’t available in any political shade you prefer(indeed, it’s sort of a defining characteristic that there’s bullshit to serve any cause so long as it’s orthogonal to the truth); but it seems to be a lot easier to draw conservative fire by having the temerity to insist on fact-checking. Your fact checking may go completely unnoticed on the liberal side except by those serious people who read Mother Jones; but apathy is noticeably distinct from blowback.


#18

This isn’t to say that bullshit isn’t available in any political shade
you prefer(indeed, it’s sort of a defining characteristic that there’s
bullshit to serve any cause so long as it’s orthogonal to the truth);
but it seems to be a lot easier to draw conservative fire by having the
temerity to insist on fact-checking. Your fact checking may go completely unnoticed on the liberal side except by those serious people who read Mother Jones; but apathy is noticeably distinct from blowback.

I’d say that times are a-changing on that one, despite how evergreen a topic Republicans being out of touch with reality is. For just one example of many, I’ve been shouted at(metaphorically, of course) on BB before for calling out notorious bullshit blog USUncut, who are literally just a political action group dressed in the skin of a news outlet, like some sort of Media Buffalo Bill. (Would you clickthrough on me? I’d clickthrough on me.) Not to mention called a shill(and far worse) on more occasions than I can count just by clearing misconceptions and misinformation among the left-wing people interested in the current election primaries. I shudder to think about how it’ll be during the general, when it’s people who actually disagree ideologically.

The issue is that with the rise of clickbait and fake news sites, people on the Left have figured out what the Right-Wing(and particularly right wing radio) have known for years - It doesn’t matter a fuck what you say, as long as it agrees with what people already think. Which in turn, has lead to an enormous rise in the left falling for fake news and misinformation.

Honestly, I think the problem goes deeper than merely fact-checking - it’s media illiteracy, and lack of awareness about different outlets. You can’t fact check every bit of news you consume, there’s simply not enough hours in the day, so you pick news outlets to trust - but without some basic media literacy, you end up at places like USUncut because they agree with you ideologically, and therefore seem trustworthy even though they’re not even an actual outlet. If someone lacks the tools to assess a media outlet for trustworthiness, or how to give their reportage appropriate weight, all the fact-checking in the world can’t save them - because their two primary tools for deciding if they should trust an outlet will be ideology and reputation.

For example, most people in this thread would pick The Intercept over Buzzfeed, right? One employs the famous snowden leaks journalist Glenn Greenwald, and they made big statements about Real Journalism, and they seem pretty left wing. The other publishes listicles and crappy entertainment content, so they’re probably not very good.

Nope! Exactly backwards - the Intercept is a rudderless clusterfuck, Greenwald has been riding roughshod doing whatever the fuck he likes since they trade on his name recognition, and their reportage is often utter nonsense - like the time they reported that windows 10 was stealing your encryption keys, or that Hiram Saban owns The Onion and implying that he’s ordering them to not make fun of Hillary Clinton(Which is so trivially debunked that it boggles the mind they not only published it, but updated it with a correction, but have not yet seen fit to retract).

Buzzfeed, on the other hand, has a stunningly well-rounded, well-funded and high-quality newsroom, with multiple Pulizer winners, some of the more respected journalists in the business, and over the last few years have been consistently producing some of the best news and investigative content out there, like uncovering massive problems in the UK police with unlawful searches, or the systematic abuse and neglect within America’s largest Foster Care company, or how the US justice system has been putting domestic abuse victims behind bars, or the investigation of the financial malfeasance of senior officials within the NSA.

TL:DR - Ideology is a problem, and the right wing certainly has a disconnect with reality, but the underlying issue is less one of ideology than media illiteracy.


#19

Maybe it says more about me but I assumed that was intentional.


#20

The Fairness Doctrine ended in 1987, there is no responsibility of equal time, as demonstrated by Fox News and Limbaugh’s AM radio monopoly. Furthermore, if you’re depending of Facebook to get adequate information, you’re already a moron and a few articles won’t help you.