Overnight Tech: Facebook takes heat over allegations of bias – The Hill

Overnight Tech: Facebook takes heat over allegations of bias – The Hill

6 months ago Comments Off on Overnight Tech: Facebook takes heat over allegations of bias – The Hill

LEDE: Facebook is facing the most intense challenge yet to its insistence that its platform is politically neutral.

Gizmodo published a report this morning alleging that “curators” behind the site’s “Trending” feature on its homepage had been excluding topics popular with conservatives and stories from right-leaning news source. That would be a major affront to the company’s long-stated policy of providing a platform for political debate but not influencing it.

Facebook punched back by the afternoon. “We take allegations of bias very seriously. Facebook is a platform for people and perspectives from across the political spectrum,” the company said. “There are rigorous guidelines in place for the review team to ensure consistency and neutrality. These guidelines do not permit the suppression of political perspectives. Nor do they permit the prioritization of one viewpoint over another or one news outlet over another. These guidelines do not prohibit any news outlet from appearing in Trending Topics.”

ONE CONSERVATIVE OUTLET IS RELATIVELY NONPLUSED: Leon Wolf, writing for Red State, said that the website has always treated fairly by Facebook and their employees. The outlet was one of the ones namechecked in the Gizmodo story. “But on the whole it’s a good thing that Facebook’s editorial practices receive more scrutiny, because of the immense power that Facebook yields,” Wolf said. “That is particularly true when content distribution decisions are made by human beings, as opposed to software algorithms that are (at least theoretically) objective.”

OF COURSE: Gizmodo’s report was referenced on the “Trending” sidebar today.

CONTEXT: It’s impossible not to view these two stories in light of Mark Zuckerberg’s recent comments criticizing “fearful voices calling for building walls” and the decision by one Facebook employee, also first reported by Gizmodo, to internally pose a question of the CEO asking whether they were responsible for preventing Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense: Poll finds troops prefer Trump; WH damage control over profileThe Trail 2016: A Trump Shaped WoundJulián Castro: Trump gives Clinton ‘opening’ with GOP votersMORE from becoming president. It also comes as Facebook continues to court Republicans (and Democrats) to capture their political ad dollars.

EMAIL PRIVACY PRESSURE: Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahyOvernight Tech: Facebook takes heat over allegations of biasLet’s close the email privacy loophole nowSenate Dems accuse GOP of slow-walking Obama nomineesMORE (D-Vt.) and Sen. Mike LeeMike LeeOvernight Tech: Facebook takes heat over allegations of biasPress: Never Trump, not everLet’s close the email privacy loophole nowMORE (R-Utah) on Monday published an op-ed in The Hill calling for the Senate to “take up” an email privacy bill that recently passed the House. On the same day, House Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanThe Trail 2016: A Trump Shaped WoundJulián Castro: Trump gives Clinton ‘opening’ with GOP votersOvernight Tech: Facebook takes heat over allegations of biasMORE (R-Wis.) issued a press release making the same argument: “The House unanimously passed this bill with a 419-0 vote. Now we need the Senate to follow suit and send this critical legislation to the president’s desk.”

ADVOCATES TARGET AMAZON OVER TRUMP: The advocacy group UltraViolet Action organized 1,500 shareholders to send a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos pressing the company to stop selling Donald Trump menswear on the e-commerce site.  The letter noted that retail stores like Macy’s did the same after the GOP front-runner’s presidential launch speech in which he disparaged Mexican immigrants.

TWITTER MAPPING: A new project through Indiana University allows people to easily put together graphics to plot the spread of hashtags and other trends on Twitter. The project lets you measure a trend over time, map its spread or see what kind of networks were discussing it. It will even create YouTube videos to map the spread of hashtags, like this one showing the growth of  #DropOutHillary after last week’s primary.



At 9:30 a.m., the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act.



Google and Oracle headed back to court Monday in a case that could have significant ramifications for the future of software development.

Regulators have started scrutinizing smartphone makers and wireless carriers about how they issue software updates and patch security vulnerabilities.

Government debt collectors would be able to robocall an individual three times per month to provide information or collect payment, according to a proposal adopted by the Federal Communications Commission.

Twitter has barred U.S. intelligence agencies from accessing a service that monitors and sorts the entire worldwide volume of tweets in real time.

Uber and Lyft are leaving Austin, Texas, after voters rejected a ballot initiative allowing them to avoid running fingerprint-based background checks on their drivers.


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Overnight Tech: Facebook takes heat over allegations of bias – The Hill