Facebook continues to deny claims
Senator John Thune, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, opened the doors to an inquiry of Facebook’s bias against conservatives in the newsfeed known as “trending topics.” Facebook has repeatedly denied the claims, even though it’s been reported that this list is not compiled strictly by an algorithm, as many users believed. Humans are involved in every step of the way.
There’s quite a few different issues here. Let me see if I can break them down. I’ve already reported that Facebook seems to be creating a monopoly. We ran this article, “Forget Facebook’s alleged bias, worry about their growing tech monopoly.” I’m seriously concerned about this. But I’d like to discuss some of the other issues at play.
Facebook in meetings this week
Over the weekend, Facebook invited multiple leaders in the news industry to meet with them this Wednesday. Reuters reported that Dana Perino and Zac Moffatt would be two of the leaders, and then Glenn Beck confirmed in a Facebook post that he would also be meeting with Facebook.
Facebook is a private company and it has a right to its business model, but, in the words of Glenn Beck, “While they are a private business and I support their right to run it any way they desire without government interference, it would be wonderful if a tool like Facebook INDEPENDENTLY CHOSE to hold up freedom of speech and freedom of association as a corporate principle.”
Should we get our news from Facebook?
According to a Pew Research Survey, about two-thirds of Americans get their news from Facebook and Twitter. I find this alarming, since the news in my trending topics seems to revolve around celebrities. Personally, I’ve never taken the trending topics on Facebook very seriously. I always get news somewhere else. I find it problematic that so many people are relying on Facebook for news. Is it a governmental concern? In my opinion, it’s not. It’s a cultural concern. I believe people should be reading multiple outlets for news. There’s no denying that Fox News, MSNBC, or even CNN isn’t a little biased.
What can Senator Thune do?
Let’s suppose that Facebook is suppressing conservative news. I’m not saying it is, but let’s say that it is. What can the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation actually do? They haven’t sanctioned Fox for being conservative. The Committee doesn’t seem concerned that CNN has a more liberal bias. Facebook itself has never said that it is a news aggregator, but a lot of news does filter through its feeds. I doubt Senator Thune’s inquiry will go far.
Another waste of time and money in the government when there are real problems facing our country.
Facebook makes it easy to get news and access it, but we, all Americans, should be looking at other sources. Don’t let Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media sites be the only websites from which you access news. We’re the ones who have created these sites and now we have to live with the consequences or make changes.