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Rep. Andy Biggs Cites Western Journal During Congressional Hearing on Social Media Censorship

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Arizona Congressman Andy Biggs cited an original study by The Western Journal during a House Judiciary hearing concerning social media companies’ bias against conservative sites on Thursday.

The bulk of Biggs’ remarks focused on Facebook’s February news feed algorithm change which resulted in conservative sites falling in the rankings of the most engaged pages on the platform while liberal outlets rose.

“When Facebook changed their platform, we saw from January 2018 a steady decrease in the top 25 biggest publishers on Facebook,” the Republican said. “They moved many of the conservative links such as Fox News, Western Journal, etc, they moved further down that list.”

In January, Fox News was the most engaged site on Facebook, and The Western Journal was not far behind at No. 4, just trailing The New York Times, according to Newswhip. Further, The Daily Wire, also conservative, came in at No. 6.

Following the algorithm change, which The Journal determined was implemented in early February, Western dropped to No. 12 among news sites, while The Times remained the same at No. 4. Meanwhile, NBC jumped to the top of the list and CNN sprang from No. 16 to No. 2.

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In March, the first full month after the algorithm change, CNN took the top spot, followed by NBC, with Fox News the only conservative site remaining in the top 10. Others on that list included The Times, the Huffington Post, BBC, The Washington Post, and The Guardian.

The Western Journal had dropped back to No. 22.

“Now I don’t think anybody’s isolated the variables,” said Biggs of the change in rankings. “The audience may have changed, but it does provide some correlative indicia that the result of that algorithmic change by Facebook impacted the dissemination of conservative thought and ideas.”

Newswhip reported that the change in the rankings for the sites was clearly a result of Facebook’s news algorithm change.

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Biggs went on to cite The Western Journal’s original study about the impact of the shift on conservative sites.

“George Upper, the executive editor of Western Journal has said their ‘algorithm change, intentional or not, has in effect censored conservative viewpoints on the largest social media platform in the world,'” the congressman stated.

Continuing to quote Upper, Biggs added, “This change has ramifications that in the short term that 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.”

The study concluded that liberal publishers gained on average 2 percent more in web traffic from Facebook following the new algorithm’s implementation, while conservative sites lost on average 14 percent.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise also cited The Journal’s findings during his questioning of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg before the House Commerce Committee earlier this month.

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Campbell Brown, a former anchor on NBC and CNN who now leads Facebook’s news partnerships team, told attendees at a technology and publishing conference earlier this year that the social media giant would be censoring news publishers based on its own internal biases.

“This is not us stepping back from news,” she said. “This is us changing our relationship with publishers and emphasizing something that Facebook has never done before: It’s having a point of view, and it’s leaning into quality news. … We are, for the first time in the history of Facebook, taking a step to try to to define what ‘quality news’ looks like and give that a boost.”

Interestingly, Brown’s two former employers — NBC and CNN — were sites that clearly got the boost.

On Thursday, Biggs noted that Zuckerberg, during his congressional testimony, confirmed Facebook’s intention to favor news sites it determined to be “broadly trusted.”

“The one thing that’s interesting here, he doesn’t indicate his definition of ‘broadly trusted,'” Biggs said, but the Facebook head simply offered the examples of The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

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Randy DeSoto has written more than 1,000 articles for The Western Journal since he joined the company in 2015. He is a graduate of West Point and Regent University School of Law. He is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths" and screenwriter of the political documentary "I Want Your Money."
Randy DeSoto is the senior staff writer for The Western Journal. He wrote and was the assistant producer of the documentary film "I Want Your Money" about the perils of Big Government, comparing the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Randy is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths," which addresses how leaders have appealed to beliefs found in the Declaration of Independence at defining moments in our nation's history. He has been published in several political sites and newspapers.

Randy graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in political science and Regent University School of Law with a juris doctorate.
Birthplace
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Nationality
American
Honors/Awards
Graduated dean's list from West Point
Education
United States Military Academy at West Point, Regent University School of Law
Books Written
We Hold These Truths
Professional Memberships
Virginia and Pennsylvania state bars
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment, Faith




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