Facebook has been accused of favoritism on both sides of the political spectrum for a long time. Now it is clear that the company's top brass are also being criticized. According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook's leaders and employees have clashed many times over their approach to conservative content, especially outlets like Breitbart. Employees at the rank-and-file have accused Facebook of making "special exceptions” from its policies regarding right-wing outlets. Senior staff warned about potential pitfalls.
Workers claimed that Facebook placed Breitbart on the second tier of its News Tab. This section is meant to be reliable news and despite low trust scores, quality scores, as well as misinformation violations. One employee claimed that Facebook was not just making exceptions but also "explicitly" endorsing outlets such as this by including them in its trusted partners. Staff said that Facebook was afraid of political backlash if it did not enforce policies equally. They believed that Diamond and Silk, conservative influencers, allowed fact-checkers to prevent misinformation spreading.
Higher-ups retorted with justifications. They claimed that removing a news outlet from trust scores could lead to the demise of other mainstream media outlets, like CNN. Staff asked Facebook to intervene in the Breitbart alleged attempts to circumvent sites' advertising blockers. A director replied that Facebook must resist this urge and "rely on our principles, policies".
Facebook reiterated its familiar position in response to the Journal. It maintained that people have limited access to low quality material to "improve their experiences" and not because of political leanings. A spokesperson for Facebook stated that it had studied the potential effects of possible changes before they were implemented and that publishers such as Breitbart still adhered to rules against hate speech and misinformation.
These revelations won't please people from either side of America's political spectrum. Liberals might be worried that Facebook allows the spreading of false and heavily spun claims. The right-wing might view it as evidence of an anti-conservative bias. These insights show a more nuanced approach to material. These insights also highlight the importance of tools that automatically limit misinformation. They could reduce internal debates and curb fake news without the need for as much human input.