Following a recent report from The Wall Street Journal, the bias of Facebook employees are front and center again regarding attempts to quell or outright de-platform news outlets that are more right-wing – with Breitbart being one outlet echoed frequently.
— New York Post (@nypost) October 24, 2021
Internal Facebook arguments amongst Facebook employees, documented in message-board chats accessed by The Wall Street Journal, have sparked renewed worries that the company treats news organizations differently depending on a respective outlet’s political leanings.
According to the report, Breitbart News was singled out with a particular vitriolic zeal by Facebook employees, with staff attempting to remove it from the News Tab function, partially inspired by the demonstrations and frequent riots that were spawned by the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis back in 2020.
Conversations documented between Facebook employees showed one instance where a staffer asked about nixing Breitbart over sentiments that the news source is untrustworthy, with a senior researcher responding with:
“I can also tell you that we saw drops in trust in CNN 2 years ago: would we take the same approach for them too?”
By 2020, Facebook had started tracking “strikes” for material that third-party fact-checkers had determined to be inaccurate. In some cases, serial offenders could have their posting privileges suspended if too many violations are tallied.
According to the report, escalations over allegations that posted news content was false were more often levied towards conservative sites.
This revelation comes on the heels of the former Facebook employee, 37-year-old Frances Haugen, who has been crusading against her former employer and pleading with lawmakers to do something to stifle more speech on the platform by framing the social media giant as affording a platform for misinformation.
Speaking before a Senate panel earlier in October, Haugen framed the social media platform as something akin to a shadowy – almost seedy – organization that requires a copious amount of regulation to keep the population safe:
“There are no similarly powerful companies that are as unilaterally controlled [as Facebook]. The buck stops with Mark. There is no one currently holding Mark accountable but himself…As long as Facebook is operating in the dark, it is accountable to no one, and it will continue to make choices that go against the common good.”