Apple is known as the technology industry’s most prolific curator. The entire Apple ecosystem– from hardware to software to services– is as highly curated, cultivated, and organized as the British Museum and Disney World. How is that news? It’s not. It’s the way it is.
This week a few former Facebook workers admitted that they routinely suppressed certain topics from the social network giant’s ‘trending’ news sections, which, oddly enough, is curated by human beings. How is that news? It’s not. It’s the way it is. Humans curate things.
Facebook workers routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network’s influential “trending” news section, according to a former journalist who worked on the project. This individual says that workers prevented stories about the right-wing CPAC gathering, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and other conservative topics from appearing in the highly-influential section, even though they were organically trending among the site’s users.
Two words: Faux News.
Several former Facebook “news curators,” as they were known internally, also told Gizmodo that they were instructed to artificially “inject” selected stories into the trending news module, even if they weren’t popular enough to warrant inclusion—or in some cases weren’t trending at all. The former curators, all of whom worked as contractors, also said they were directed not to include news about Facebook itself in the trending module.
Shocking. Just shocking, I tell you. Not.
What does Facebook say about this faux controversy?
We take allegations of bias very seriously. Facebook is a platform for people and perspectives from across the political spectrum. Trending Topics shows you the popular topics and hashtags that are being talked about on Facebook.
These guidelines do not permit the suppression of political perspectives. Nor do they permit the prioritization of one viewpoint over another or one news outlet over another. These guidelines do not prohibit any news outlet from appearing in Trending Topics.
Except that editing anything or not including anything can be viewed as suppression.
What do the targeted right-wingers thing of this non-news event? Senator John Thune:
If there’s any level of subjectivity associated with it, or if, as reports have suggested that there might have been, an attempt to suppress conservative stories or keep them from trending and get other stories out there, I think it’s important for people to know that. That’s just a matter of transparency and honesty, and there shouldn’t be any attempt to mislead the American public.
Does the Senator make similar demands to Faux News and MSNBC? Of course not. Why not? That’s not news. Everyone who knows anything about how media works knows there is bias built-in to human beings, and like-minded individuals gravitate to similarly like-minded individuals, so, ipso facto and Voila! curated news with a bias from reporters and editors.
I may be showing my bias but this is not news. Move along. There is nothing to see here. To eliminate bias and perspective is to stop being human. Facebook’s management may consider ways to employ different control and tracking mechanisms upon the curation process to make them foolproof. The real problem is that fools are so ingenious.
Apple bends and shapes everything it can to deliver the product it thinks its customers want and are willing to pay to obtain. Faux News, not unlike MSNBC (which, arguably, is more blatant and obvious about the liberal bias), twists, distorts, and shapes news to fit a particular perspective. That some Facebook contractors did something similar is not news. Move along. There is nothing to see here.