Facebook Employees Block Conservative News From Trending on the Site

May 9, 2016

Former Facebook employees conceded that the social network routinely censors conservative news stories when aggregating pieces for the site’s "trending" media section.

One former employee who helped decide which pieces would appear as trending told Gizmodo Monday that staff blocked stories focusing on right-leaning issues, such as the annual Conservative Political Action Conference and former Republican presidential contenders Mitt Romney and Rand Paul, even while those topics were organically trending among users.

Other former "news curators" revealed that they were directed to "inject" specific stories into the influential trending section even if the pieces weren’t among the most popular.

"Depending on who was on shift, things would be blacklisted or trending," said one former conservative curator. "I’d come on shift and I’d discover that CPAC or Mitt Romney or Glenn Beck or popular conservative topics wouldn’t be trending because either the curator didn’t recognize the news topic or it was like they had a bias against Ted Cruz."

The revelations stand in direct contrast to official Facebook policy stating that the company determines what topics are trending based off of "topics that have recently become popular."

Among the top right-leaning stories that were left off of the trending page were pieces about former IRS official Lois Lerner, who improperly targeted tea party and conservative groups, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, murdered Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, and the Drudge Report.

The aforementioned curator said the result was a "chilling effect on conservative news." Another told Gizmodo that the process was "absolutely bias."

"We were doing it subjectively. It just depends on who the curator is and what time of day it is," the former curator said.

The report arrived just a month after Gizmodo found that Facebook employees have repeatedly explored what "responsibility" the social network has to stop Donald Trump from clinching the White House in 2016.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been outspoken in his disdain for the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee, criticizing his hard-line immigration stances.

Employees of the site have the ability to shape what billions of users consume each day, raising questions as to whether the tech giant is altering algorithms to quell specific viewpoints.