Quick to Listen/Episode 10 | 28 min

Can We Trust Facebook to Be Fair with Conservative News?

Technology critic Adam Graber on whether we should ask our social media sites to pursue neutrality.
Can We Trust Facebook to Be Fair with Conservative News?

If you’re on Facebook, you’ve probably glanced at—and maybe clicked into—the trending headlines on your timeline. Maybe you thought these stories were generated by an algorithm. You’d be wrong. Instead, Facebook employed a team of people who selected these stories, with a bit of influence from management. Higher-ups repeatedly instructed the team to keep “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,” reported Gizmodo, which broke the story.

“Facebook’s bottom line and their shareholders’ best interests are Facebook’s best interests,” said our guest Adam Graber, who writes about technology and the church. “Facebook wants to keep you on their site and keep you clicking. If they can keep a trending topics bar to help you do that, they’re going do that. Yes, they’re looking to keep their users happy, but their users aren’t necessarily the ones driving the value of their site.”

Graber joined Morgan and guest co-host Ted Olsen to discuss why we value neutrality, how algorithms can both benefit our lives and warp our realities, and whether there’s overlap in CT’s own practices and those of its trending curators.

  • (3:09) What is an algorithm?
  • (5:25) What makes Facebook’s actions so distressing?
  • (12:27) Given previous decisions, can and should Facebook, as a content distributor and business, actually be neutral?
  • (20:26) How can we consume content and order information in ways that are inherently more or less Christian?

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