Surprise, surprise! Gizmodo:
Former Facebook Workers: We Routinely Suppressed Conservative News
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.
. . . .
“Depending on who was on shift, things would be blacklisted or trending,” said the former curator. This individual asked to remain anonymous, citing fear of retribution from the company. The former curator is politically conservative, one of a very small handful of curators with such views on the trending team. “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 former curator was so troubled by the omissions that they kept a running log of them at the time; this individual provided the notes to Gizmodo. Among the deep-sixed or suppressed topics on the list: former IRS official Lois Lerner, who was accused by Republicans of inappropriately scrutinizing conservative groups; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; popular conservative news aggregator the Drudge Report; Chris Kyle, the former Navy SEAL who was murdered in 2013; and former Fox News contributor Steven Crowder. “I believe it had a chilling effect on conservative news,” the former curator said.
We’ve seen similar things with Twitter and its ridiculous, pro-“social justice” “safety” commissions.
Issues like these raise an interesting question. It’s natural and appropriate, I think, to take note that a business like Facebook is trying to foist its leftist opinions on you. If you’re not a leftist — and maybe even if you are! — you might find this attempt to suppress certain political viewpoints an illiberal tendency.
But, of course, a private business has every right to promote particular viewpoints. And the natural response of a free marketeer to something like this is to encourage people to start their own competition.
One might whine that Facebook is a monopoly. To the extent that your complaint is that market forces have created a natural monopoly, I have no sympathy for your position. “Monopolies” are never as powerful in the long term as people perceive them to be. Competition always wins out in the end, if someone has a better product or service.
Here’s where it gets a little more difficult. What about the fact that Facebook certainly has several government-issued patents that make it difficult to compete with them? Is there anything of concern about the fact that a leftist government hands out patents to a leftist company — patents that have the effect of impeding conservatives’ ability to compete?
I ask the question to open a discussion. I can’t see this being a First Amendment violation, exactly — and there are slippery slope concerns about taking action to address it. (Am I to be deprived of copyright protection when I run a site that spouts free market and conservative ideas?)
But isn’t it worth discussing? When government protection of a business makes it difficult for competitors to spread ideas with which the government disagrees, something seems wrong.
UPDATE: My guess is that the official answer is: there’s no problem if government hands out the patents without regard to the company’s political viewpoint.
The next question is: do you believe that’s what they do?