On Heels of WJ Study, Gateway Says FB Stopped '93% of Traffic' to Top Conservative Pages


When it comes to Facebook’s obvious bias against conservative news sites, the numbers really do tell the story.

As The Western Journal has documented in previous studies, the algorithm change Facebook inaugurated in February — ostensibly to bring its millions of users news that is more important to them personally — has had the real effect of cutting down the readership reach of politicians and news sites that don’t conform to liberal worldviews.

In March, The Western Journal, parent site of The Conservative Tribune, released a definitive study showing how severely Facebook’s technological change had affected conservative news sites more than liberal voices.

Just this week, another Western Journal study showed that the Facebook impact wasn’t just hitting conservative news sites — Republican members of Congress in the House and Senate were getting hurt too, which means American citizens were getting less interaction with their elected officials.

Now, another conservative website, The Gateway Pundit, has released its own study that reinforces the point that the impact of Facebook’s changes is hitting conservatives hard.

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Between Jan. 1 and May 1, according to The Gateway Pundit, its viewership on Facebook dropped from 2,041,842 to 284,368 — a startling decline of more than 86 percent.

The Gateway Pundit combined its own numbers with those of other conservative sites to conclude that “Facebook has eliminated 93% of traffic to top conservative websites.”

That’s an extreme number and one that doesn’t match The Western Journal’s report, likely because of the sample sizes involved, and technological factors The Gateway Pundit didn’t take into account.

The Western Journal’s report from March documented conservative websites having lost 14 percent of their traffic. Meanwhile, liberal publishers have gained 2 percent.

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The difference in degree between the two conclusions could be because The Western Journal’s study was more broadly based — using data from 50 publishers, 25 conservative and 25 liberal. The Gateway Pundit’s report was based on eight conservative sites.

Also, at least some data in The Gateway Pundit’s study is clearly flawed.

For instance, The Gateway Pundit’s conclusion that The Conservative Tribune had lost “100 percent” of its readers was simply incorrect, likely because it didn’t take into account domain changes instituted to respond to Facebook’s new playing field.

However, any debate over numbers like that is really beside the point. The essential truth of the premise — and The Gateway Pundit’s reporting of its own numbers — cannot be questioned.

As The Western Journal report in March put it:

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“This algorithm change, intentional or not, has in effect censored conservative viewpoints on the largest social media platform in the world. This change has ramifications that, in the short-term, are causing conservative publishers to downsize or fold up completely, and in the long-term could swing elections in the United States and around the world toward liberal politicians and policies.”

In an emailed response to The Western Journal’s post on Monday about the impact of Facebook’s algorithm change on political traffic, the company claimed the effect was hitting both sides.

“We updated News Feed to help people meaningfully connect with friends and family first,” the statement read.

“As News Feed prioritizes posts from friends, it means public Pages of all types have experienced declines, regardless of political perspective. In fact, while our own analysis shows decreases across the board for Republican and Democratic member Facebook Pages, there have been large spikes driven by conversation about news events, such as tax cuts last December and the immigration debate in June.”

That might be true, but it’s also irrelevant. Occasional spikes from major news events are part of life for every news organization — regardless of politics. The issue here is the daily ebb and flow of debate, and the political perspectives that Facebook readers are being exposed to.

And it’s not just Facebook, and conservatives who are noticing. Vice, a website that generally runs to the left on any issue, published a report Wednesday that documented how Twitter was effectively stifling the voices of Republican politicians and Trump supporters. (Twitter must have had no idea what was happening with its own users, apparently. Vice reported Thursday that the social media giant “appears to have adjusted its platform overnight to no longer limit the visibility of some prominent Republicans in its search results.”)

What the numbers are clearly showing — whether they’re from The Western Journal or The Gateway Pundit — is that the evidence is building that what Facebook did in February amounted to a near-strangulation of conservative organizations.

And it’s happening at a time when the American people — and the whole world — need to know there’s an alternative to the liberal “narrative” being relentlessly pushed through the mainstream media.

The numbers are telling the story. And for conservatives, and anyone who really cares about the free exchange of ideas, it’s an infuriating one.

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Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro desk editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015.
Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015. Largely a product of Catholic schools, who discovered Ayn Rand in college, Joe is a lifelong newspaperman who learned enough about the trade to be skeptical of every word ever written. He was also lucky enough to have a job that didn't need a printing press to do it.