Date: May 21, 2016

Black Lives Matter activist sex trafficking story makes Facebook trending stories

Two days after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with conservative media leaders concerned about allegations that Facebook skews its news against conservatives, a negative story about Black Lives Matter is in the top three trending spots on Facebook.
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Charles Wade, a black activist involved in Black Lives Matter, was arrested and charged with trafficking a 17-year-old girl for sex, as The Washington Times reported. Among the allegations against Facebook was that the website often promoted favorable stories about Black Lives Matter through editorial decisions. Zuckerberg himself has been personally outspoken in defense of the #BlackLivesMatter message.

Could this be a response by Facebook to show they are taking conservative concerns to heart? Or is it evidence that Facebook wasn’t biased against conservatives in the first place?
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The choice of news outlets Facebook linked to as their top two sources included one journalistic outlet that featured original reporting, The Washington Times, at #2, but the top ranked result was for DeneenBorelli.com, a conservative opinion blogger who merely copied and pasted from a Fox News report and then added a tweet by Wade defending himself.

Clearly Fox News should have had been the featured link, as it was the actual source of both the news and the two paragraphs of the text that Borelli copied and pasted in blockquote. But it could be that Facebook was convinced that “conservative news” means opinion. I argued in my original post on the matter than some conservative websites featured in the allegations–including Breitbart and Red State–are focused on adding comment or opinion to news articles and not on reporting.
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The conservative witch hunt against Facebook and the truth about liberal bias

Earlier this month U.S. Senator John Thune sent a letter to Facebook demanding the company answer questions about the procedures behind its news aggregation. What is a U.S. Senator doing demanding information, which he considers “just a matter of transparency and honesty,” from a private-sector company?

This all goes back to an anonymous source in an article from Gizmodo on May 9 who claimed conservative news was suppressed on Facebook’s trending news items list. Facebook sends huge numbers of readers to news outlets and blogs. Last year, it was reported that Facebook had surpassed Google as the #1 source of referral traffic for websites tracked by analytics firm Parse.ly and accounted for close to 40 percent of referral traffic. With much smaller traffic numbers than any of the big outlets CEO Mark Zuckerberg invited to meet with him recently, Bombs and Dollars still knows the import of Facebook, as we get a large share of our traffic from users sharing our articles on Facebook. Conservatives have long believed the mainstream media is biased in favor of liberalism, so it isn’t surprising that many would be outraged about the report.

But before even getting to the veracity of the allegations, consider for a moment if it was true that Facebook slanted its news aggregation in favor of liberal outlets, what would the proper response be? What should the government do about it? What could the government do about it? Facebook is a corporation operating in the free-market system. Why should the government or anyone else have control over how it decides to publish content? If the media in general is biased—and certain outlets transparently are, like MSNBC and Fox News, and indeed all the conservative outlets invited to meet with Zuckerberg—then should they be investigated for slanting their news?

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