Is Facebook Biased?

By Tracey Dowdy

By now we’ve all heard the allegations that Facebook is manipulating what shows up in your newsfeed, particularly in the trending topics. Is the story a storm in a teacup – an almost welcome respite from the endless election coverage – or is there an actual bias in what we see?

The answer is yes and no.

Consider these statistics:

  • There are 7 billion people on earth
  • Of those 7 billion, 3 billion have access to the Internet
  • Of those 3 billion, 1.65 billion are active users of Facebook

If that doesn’t tell you the scope of Facebook’s influence, consider that a recent report by comScore reveals 20 percent of all mobile time is spent on the Facebook app; 63 percent of Americans see Facebook as their primary news source; and 31 percent rely on Facebook for breaking news. That, my friends, is a lot of influence. Manipulating content is a serious allegation.

We know Facebook uses algorithms to curate your newsfeed, so you see more of who and what you like. That makes sense – the more you see that appeals to you, the longer you stay on Facebook.

Where things get murky is that it’s not just algebraic formulas that determine the content you see. Those algorithms track what’s being talked about based on key words, phrases and how frequently they appear, then human editors take that information and use their own judgment to decide what gets pushed and how to frame the story. That naturally impacts the content we see.

As a publicly traded company Facebook is constantly looking for ways to generate income, meaning it frequently introduces new features in an attempt to keep you engaged. It recently added “Live Video” so you’ve likely started to see notifications like “Jim Gaffigan is live right now,” with the hope you’ll jump in and see what’s happening but ultimately keeping you on Facebook longer.

Facebook relies on ten news organizations for content: (BBC News, CNN, Fox News, The Guardian, NBC News, The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Yahoo and Yahoo News. According to the allegations, some editors either blacklisted or highlighted stories based on their own bias, rather than Facebook guidelines. Facebook pays news organizations like Buzzfeed and The New York Times to generate content for them that opens in Facebook, so you don’t have to leave the site to get your news and information.

There are also allegations Facebook tended to downplay content that favored conservative news. According to Gizmodo, Facebook employees admitted “they were suppressing conservative news, mostly because the majority of the employees working to curate the news weren’t conservative.” Whether those allegations are true or not remains to be seen, as both Facebook and the Senate are investigating.

The one piece of good news is those leaked documents indicate Facebook is working hard to filter out those wretched clickbait articles that take you to a sketchy website.

So where does that leave us? Pretty much back where we started actually. It’s unwise to get your news from one source, whether it’s Facebook, Fox News or CNN. It’s human nature to have a bias, and no matter how ethical the journalist, it’s impossible for that bias not to have an impact on their perspective.

For us as Facebook users, continue to engage with content. Hide, unfollow or skip content that doesn’t appeal to you and like, share and comment on the content that does. Click on articles that interest you and share them on your own feed. Those algorithms are always at work in the background, and ultimately Facebook wants to please you so they can keep you engaged and coming back for more.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

 

Comments:

  1. It’s impressive that you are getting ideas from this post as well as from our dialogue made at this
    place.

  2. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually something that I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me.
    I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the
    hang of it!

  3. Thank you for some other excellent post. The place else may anyone get that type of information in such an ideal method of writing?
    I have a presentation subsequent week, and I’m at the look for such information.

  4. When some one searches for his required thing, thus he/she wishes to be available
    that in detail, so that thing is maintained over here.

  5. Wonderful site you have here but I was wondering if you knew
    of any user discussion forums that cover the same topics
    talked about in this article? I’d really love to be a part of online community where I can get feedback from other knowledgeable people that share the same interest.

    If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Appreciate
    it!

  6. Spot on with this write-up, I truly feel this amazing site needs a great deal more attention. I’ll probably be returning to read
    through more, thanks for the advice!

  7. I all the time used to study piece of writing in news papers but now as I am
    a user of internet therefore from now I am using net for content,
    thanks to web.

  8. I all the time used to study piece of writing in news papers but now as I am a user of internet
    therefore from now I am using net for articles or reviews,
    thanks to web.

  9. Fine way of describing, and fastidious post to obtain information concerning my presentation topic,
    which i am going to present in school.

  10. Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on websites
    I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It will always be helpful to read articles from other authors and use a little something
    from other websites.

  11. You are so interesting! I don’t suppose I’ve read something like that before.
    So great to find someone with a few genuine thoughts on this subject matter.
    Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This web site
    is something that is required on the web, someone with
    a bit of originality!

  12. Excellent way of describing, and good piece of writing to
    obtain information regarding my presentation topic, which i am going to convey in university.

  13. I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your sites really nice, keep
    it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back down the road.
    All the best

  14. Just wish to say your article is as surprising. The clearness to your
    post is simply excellent and that i can assume you’re
    a professional in this subject. Well along with
    your permission let me to grab your RSS feed to stay updated with forthcoming post.
    Thank you a million and please carry on the rewarding work.

  15. What’s Going down i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve discovered It absolutely useful and
    it has aided me out loads. I’m hoping to give a contribution &
    aid different users like its helped me. Good job.

  16. That is very interesting, You are an overly professional blogger.
    I’ve joined your rss feed and look ahead to in search of
    more of your wonderful post. Additionally, I’ve shared your website in my social networks

  17. Hi! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any problems with hackers?
    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing several weeks of hard work due to no back up.
    Do you have any methods to prevent hackers?

  18. I think this is among the most important information for me.
    And i’m glad reading your article. But should remark on few general things, The website style is wonderful, the articles is really excellent : D.
    Good job, cheers

  19. Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any widgets I could add to my blog that automatically
    tweet my newest twitter updates. I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like this.
    Please let me know if you run into anything.
    I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new updates.

  20. I truly love your website.. Excellent colors &
    theme. Did you create this site yourself? Please reply back as I’m attempting
    to create my own blog and would like to know where you got this from or exactly what the theme is named.
    Cheers!

  21. Superb post however I was wondering if you could write a
    litte more on this topic? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit further.
    Thank you!

  22. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d definitely donate to this fantastic blog!

    I guess for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my
    Google account. I look forward to brand new updates and will talk about
    this site with my Facebook group. Talk soon!

  23. Good day! This is kind of off topic but I need some help from an established blog.
    Is it tough to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty quick.
    I’m thinking about creating my own but I’m not sure where to begin. Do you have any tips or suggestions?

    With thanks

  24. Great site you’ve got here.. It’s hard to find high quality writing like yours these days.
    I really appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

  25. Have you ever considered about including a little bit more than just your articles?

    I mean, what you say is fundamental and all.
    However think of if you added some great visuals or video clips to give your posts
    more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with images and clips,
    this website could certainly be one of the most beneficial in its niche.

    Great blog!

  26. Right here is the perfect blog for anyone who would like
    to understand this topic. You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that
    I really will need to…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a subject that has been discussed for ages.
    Great stuff, just wonderful!

  27. Hey there! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my
    new apple iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog
    and look forward to all your posts! Carry on the great work!

  28. Wonderful goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to
    and you’re just extremely magnificent. I really like what you’ve acquired
    here, really like what you are saying and the way in which you say it.
    You make it enjoyable and you still care for to keep it sensible.
    I can’t wait to read far more from you. This is actually a terrific website.

  29. You could definitely see your skills within the article you write.
    The arena hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who
    aren’t afraid to mention how they believe. Always follow your heart.

  30. Интернет-платформа Джойказино возникла на просторах отечественного
    интернета в 2014 году. Клиентам
    веб-проекта предоставлен топовый софт от известных
    производителей. В коллекцию цифровых развлечений входят автоматы с барабанами и линиями, карточные и настольные игры
    в режиме live и пари на спорт и киберспортивные дисциплины.

  31. Whoa! This blog looks exactly like my old one!
    It’s on a entirely different subject but it has pretty much the same page layout and
    design. Superb choice of colors!

  32. Your style is so unique compared to other folks I’ve read stuff from.
    Many thanks for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess
    I will just book mark this site.

  33. Helpful information. Lucky me I found your site unintentionally, and
    I am shocked why this accident didn’t took place in advance!
    I bookmarked it.

  34. When some one searches for his required thing, therefore
    he/she needs to be available that in detail, thus
    that thing is maintained over here.

  35. Have you ever considered writing an ebook or guest authoring
    on other sites? I have a blog centered on the same information you discuss and would love to have
    you share some stories/information. I know my readers would
    value your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an email.

  36. Hey just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading properly.
    I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue.
    I’ve tried it in two different web browsers and
    both show the same results.

  37. Magnificent goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous
    to and you’re just too excellent. I actually like what you’ve acquired here, really like what you’re saying and the
    way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still care for to
    keep it smart. I can not wait to read much more from you. This is really a tremendous web site.

  38. Great blog here! Additionally your website rather a lot up fast!
    What host are you the use of? Can I am getting your
    associate link in your host? I wish my web site loaded up as fast as yours
    lol

  39. Appreciating the commitment you put into your website and detailed information you present.
    It’s nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the
    same out of date rehashed information. Excellent read!
    I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  40. Awesome issues here. I’m very glad to see your post.
    Thank you a lot and I’m taking a look ahead to contact you.
    Will you please drop me a e-mail?

  41. Greetings I am so delighted I found your weblog, I really found you by error, while I was searching on Aol
    for something else, Nonetheless I am here now and would just like to say thank you for a fantastic post and
    a all round thrilling blog (I also love the theme/design),
    I don’t have time to browse it all at the moment but I have book-marked it
    and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a lot more, Please do keep up the great job.

  42. Yesterday, while I was at work, my sister stole my
    apple ipad and tested to see if it can survive a thirty foot drop, just so
    she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad
    is now broken and she has 83 views. I know this is
    completely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  43. Good day! Do you know if they make any plugins to safeguard against hackers?
    I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve worked hard on. Any tips?

  44. Hello there, You have done a fantastic job.
    I’ll certainly digg it and personally recommend to my friends.
    I’m confident they will be benefited from this web site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.