Facebook, now the biggest news distributor on the planet, relies on old-fashioned news values on top of its algorithms to determine what the hottest stories will be for the 1 billion people who visit the social network every day.
Documents, given to the Guardian, come amid growing concerns over how Facebook decides what is news for its users. This week the company was accused of an editorial bias against conservative news organizations, prompting calls for a congressional inquiry from the US Senate commerce committee chair, John Thune.
The Drudge Report ran the piece in its top slot with a picture of Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and the headline: “Not Leaning In … Leaning Left!” a reference to her bestselling book, Lean In.
Breitbart News editor in chief Alex Marlow said the report confirmed “what conservatives have long suspected: Facebook’s trending news artificially mutes conservatives and amplifies progressives. Facebook says its algorithm simply populates ‘topics that have recently become popular on Facebook’ in its trending news section. Some say this is not true.The rise of Facebook as a dominant player in news has already worried some media watchers who are concerned the social network could become too powerful and set the news agenda and potentially block news that might not fit its corporate agenda.