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Fri May 7, 2021, 02:18 PM

Facebook knows its algorithms favour the far right, but only fix it in times of American peril

Most of the time, they let the far right sites dominate, because that's where the money is (I would say right wing users are more suggestible, a key advantage to advertisers):

Donald Trump's Facebook page is a symptom, not the cause, of the problem. Its algorithm favors low-quality, far-right content. Trump is just one of many beneficiaries.

NewsWhip is a social media analytics service which tracks which websites get the most engagement on Facebook. It just released its analysis for April and it shows low-quality right-wing aggregation sites dominate major news organizations.

Facebook has made a conscious decision to surface low-quality content and recognizes its dangers. Shortly after the November election, Facebook temporarily tweaked its algorithm to emphasize "'news ecosystem quality' scores, or N.E.Q., a secret internal ranking it assigns to news publishers based on signals about the quality of their journalism." The purpose was to attempt to cut down on election misinformation being spread on the platform by Trump and his allies. The result was "a spike in visibility for big, mainstream publishers like CNN, The New York Times and NPR, while posts from highly engaged hyperpartisan pages, such as Breitbart and Occupy Democrats, became less visible."

BuzzFeed reported that some Facebook staff members wanted to make the change permanent. But that suggestion was opposed by Joel Kaplan, a top Facebook executive and Republican operative who frequently intervenes on behalf of right-wing publishers. The algorithm change was quickly rolled back. Facebook made a similar change after January 6, but only for a few days. Other proposed changes to the Facebook algorithm over the years have been rejected or altered because of their potential negative impact on right-wing sites like The Daily Wire.


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