A change Facebook made to its News Feed algorithm in January has hindered the ability of Congress members to communicate with their constituents, according to analysis by the Western Journal.
Interactions with readers significantly declined for members of both parties, the analysis found, but the Facebook pages of Republican members of the House and Senate saw sharper drops.
The Western Journal said the interaction rate on Republican congressional Facebook pages decreased by 37 percent compared to just over 27 percent on Democrat-operated pages.
In January, the Western Journal noted, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the News Feed changes were made with the aim of “helping you find relevant content (and) helping you have more meaningful interactions.”
The algorithm places more emphasis on posts from “friends, family and groups” in News Feeds, Facebook explained, and “less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media.”
Also, Facebook said it would focus on news from “trustworthy” publications that people find “informative.”
The Western Journal said its previous analysis showed the demotion of publishers’ content in users’ feeds impacted conservative-leaning publishers significantly more than liberal-leaning outlets.
A similar trend appears evident in the feeds of elected officials.
The Western Journal explained it carried out its analysis by pulling Facebook data from CrowdTangle, which is owned by Facebook, for all members of the current Congress with a Facebook page.
The data was aggregated for Facebook pages from August 2017 through June 2018, comparing data before and after the algorithm change.
WND reported House Republicans last week, noting Facebook’s recent blocking of a post of the Declaration of Independence as “hate speech,” held a hearing with representatives of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter on the alleged suppression of conservative viewpoints on social-media platforms.
Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, expressed concern about the viability of Facebook’s efforts to combat “fake news” through computer algorithms and a panel of five news organizations that serve as “third-party fact checkers.”
“The whole idea of now we are going to have corporations censor speech based upon their definition of fake news, based on their definition of hate speech is opening up a Pandora’s box,” Poe said.
“What one person may think is fake news, somebody else believes is the gospel truth.”
At an April hearing, Zuckerberg acknowledged Silicon Valley is “an extremely left-leaning place” while maintaining his company is a neutral platform for ideas.