Talk-radio giant Rush Limbaugh wants to know: Why is everyone so surprised that Facebook actively censors conservative news?
“This doesn’t surprise me,” Limbaugh said on his show Monday, reacting to reports that former Facebook “curators” and at least one journalist who worked for the company say the media giant is as anti-conservative as mainstream news comes. “They need to rename it, ‘Fakebook.’ It’s not news.”
As WND reported, a former Facebook journalist told Gizmodo that Facebook regularly prevented stories about Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, CPAC – the Conservative Political Action Conference – and other topics of major interest to conservatives from posting in its “trending” news section, one of the most-read and heavily trafficked sites on the Internet.
Other former “news curators” who worked for Facebook as independent contractors told Gizmodo they were told to “inject” certain stories into the trending news spot, despite the fact they weren’t trending hot at all. Among the news injected into feeds was everything concerning “Black Lives Matter.”
“In other words, if it was dull, if it was dead news, if it wasn’t trending, if it wasn’t spreading through the user base, the curators would put it in there anyway to advance the leftist agenda and harm the conservative agenda,” Limbaugh said. “Does this cause surprise, anybody? Now, I know it makes you mad, but does it come as a surprise?”
Limbaugh continued, “Conservatism’s been suppressed throughout the Drive-By Media or misrepresented or lied about or stigmatized. It’s just that now people are coming out and admitting it. So what do you think is going on, folks? What’s driving this? I think I know. Some of you’ll say, ‘The Trump campaign, Rush! Trump’s doing it! That’s why they’re scared, ’cause of Trump.’ Maybe. See what you think about it.”
Also on Monday, the Drudge Report ran a photograph of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg with the headline, “Not Leaning In … Leaning Left!”
News of the Gizmodo allegations spread like wildfire online.
Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren tweeted: “Is Facebook being sneaky and telling you what to think?”
The Heritage Foundation tweeted: “Maybe we need to start talking about the consequences of living in Mark Zuckerberg’s America.”
And even Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus weighed in: “Facebook must answer for conservative censorship #MakeThisTrend”
At the time of this report, Facebook had not responded to a WND request for comment on its policy and procedures concerning trending news topics.
However, the social network denied the reports that it censors conservative news, in a statement to USA Today, claiming it has “rigorous guidelines” to ensure political neutrality in the distribution of news to its 1.6 billion users.
“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,” the company said in its statement. “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.”
By Monday evening, Facebook’s list of trending news topics included one headline that stated, “Facebook Trending: Platform Suppresses News Topics From Conservative Media, Report Says.”
The newest revelations came to light after another Gizmodo story last week reported how most of Facebook’s news team stemmed from Ivy League colleges or private East Coast universities. The job of the curators is to write headlines and summaries of each trending news story, then link the text to the news site.
“Depending on who was on shift,” one former curator told Gizmodo, “things would be blacklisted or trending. “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 person said that Lois Lerner, the Internal Revenue Service official who has been in the crosshairs of Republicans for allegedly targeting conservative groups; the Drudge Report; and Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., who ran for president last year, were among the topics not included on the list, according to the Hill.
The latest reports come on the heels of reports of April statements from Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who criticized presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during a conference in San Francisco, warning of “fearful voices calling for building walls.”
“I hear fearful voices calling for building walls and distancing people they label as others, for blocking free expression, for slowing immigration, reducing trade and, in some cases around the world, even cutting access to the internet,” Zuckerberg told the crowd. “It takes courage to choose hope over fear.”
Gizmodo had also reported that a Facebook employee asked Zuckerberg what responsibility the social network had to “prevent President Trump in 2017.”