Zuckerberg can’t win. Unless you’re Independent or conservative that has chased down more balanced news sources you probably aren’t seeing the steady stream of news about Facebook’s bias. The real story isn’t that Facebook (URL to home page) is biased. The story is how prevalent the movement to ban free speech is. Everyone is missing that part of the story.
Facebook is a private company. It has the right within the USA to be biased. What it doesn’t have and what can verge on illegal is telling us the service it provides has no bias. There it can trip on truth in advertising laws. Breaking trust with customers, in this case ‘users’ is probably more descriptive, is always considered bad form.
This morning The Washington Times carries the article, Facebook’s algorithm only as unbiased as its creators. They quote some ‘digital media analyst’, Philip Napoli a professor in journalism at Rutgers, that thinks because a human wrote the algorithm the programmer’s bias made it into the code. While that is possible, I find it highly unlikely, implausible. Things don’t sneak into computer programs without someone deliberately putting them there.
Computer programs are planned. They have purpose and a process for achieving it. That and all the details of how are planned out in advance. Facebook likely built a program to find the most popular news items on Facebook and put those into the trending list on their home page. I suspect they devised a way to edit the list since they got ratted-out for promoting and suppressing trends. But, to build in a process to figure out which stories are liberal or conservative? WAY doubtful. Imagine the AI you would have to build into the system along with some rating system for what gets posted by users.
If they built a straight forward program to find trends and let a human edit which ones to put in the list, we would likely see the bias of the ‘users’, even if no human intervened. If they have more liberals using Facebook and posting news stories from Huffington Post or Daily KOS than they do conservatives posting from Hot Air, Drudge, or Breitbart then yeah there will be a bias in what trends. But, I don’t see how we blame Facebook for that.
American politics is biased. It is supposed to be. If there are more liberals voting than conservatives, then more liberal politians win. That is freedom in a democratic republic and that most certainly is intentional bias. Being biased is not a problem. Being dishonest is the problem.
Both Dems and Reps are jumping on Facebook. The FEC wants more control of speech on the Internet to stop bias and make it fair. Right. Of course that is done by removing private businesses and others freedom of speech by imposing laws limiting speech. Then someone in the government decides when you crossed the line. The Dems on the FEC board are pushing to limit speech and the Reps at FEC to keep it free or at least keep control out of the hands of the Dems.
Se. John Thune, South Dakota – R, is bloviating about Facebook, “Any attempt by a neutral and inclusive social media platform to censor of manipulate political discussion is an abuse of trust and inconsistent with the values of an open Internet.” Sounds good, but it is BS and provides no solution other than obviously telling a private company what they can do… pass a law… take away more freedom.
Facebook is a private company. It is supposed to be free to be neutral or not, inclusive or not, to have control over what it does with its web site just as I am with mine or you yours, and I most certainly censor the comments on this site and manipulate discussion by deciding which things I will write about. That is freedom.
Most of the media on the Left has this one sort of correct. They are along the line of get over it. It is only important that one realize Facebook is not the end all in news reporting and has a liberal bias. So, what? I know that. I don’t have to use Facebook as my only news source.