Facebook has become one of the biggest distributors of news in the world, acting as the main channel many news agencies release their media. With so much control placed on one company, it left the door open for Facebook executives to silence media outlets who did not necessarily align with their point of views. The company is now surrounded in a heat of controversy over what news sources that Facebook streamed to users, and it has become apparent that they silenced trending articles that either tarnished their name or did not align with their political or social views as a company.
This discovery has led to outrage in many publishers, who hope to deliver content to users based on popularity, rather than allow Facebook to essentially control their revenue. Zuckerberg himself has invited many from the American “conservative” media to a private meeting on Wednesday to apologize for silencing their views and articles, and to assure them that it will not happen again. Still, the greater question remains, what will be the consequences for a tech company that many believe acted outside the bounds of the legal limits.
[Image Source: Trevor English]
Many may argue that Facebook is a private company, and can restrict what people see in the news. The problem isn’t that Facebook could do this, but rather that the company DID do it, but it kept the practice a secret. In no way was it stated that the ‘Trending’ section you see on the side of Facebook was actually manipulated and controlled by the company itself.
Facebook has grown to encompass almost everything in the media world and restrictions like this can place a heavy strain on the growing industry of internet media. The allegations are largely unconfirmed, but looking past the shroud of secrecy, Facebook likely did sensor many stories, according to CNN Money. This is not to say that conservative news sources were not shown in the trending queue, they were, but rather that someone on Facebook’s staff would have picked and chosen what was seen.
The important take away from this is to understand that like all media, Facebook presents a bias in the industry, even down to which posts you see from your friends or the pages you follow. Your newsfeed is not an accurate representation of what friends you have or the pages you follow. It is actually a display of the posts their algorithm decided to show you in order to improve their metrics, or understand you better.