House Majority Whip Steve Scalise questioned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday over the social media giant’s alleged bias against conservatives.
Steve Scalise questions Mark Zuckerberg about "disturbing" Facebook bias against conservatives that he says "many people have looked at and seen."
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) April 11, 2018
Zuckerberg appeared before Congress for the second consecutive day to answer questions related to Facebook’s data privacy practices.
When it was time for Scalise to speak, he asked the Facebook CEO whether or not the platform is biased against conservative news publishers, referencing a study from The Western Journal that looked into the matter.
The Western Journal’s analysis found that Facebook’s much-publicized demotion of publishers’ content in users’ news feeds has negatively impacted conservative-leaning publishers significantly more than liberal-leaning outlets.
“I do want to ask you about a study that was done dealing with the algorithm that Facebook uses to describe what is fed to people through the newsfeed, and what they found was after this new algorithm was implemented was that there was a tremendous bias against conservative news and content and a favorable bias towards liberal content,” the Louisiana Republican said.
Noting that there was a “16-point disparity,” which he called “concerning,” Scalise — a former computer programmer himself — asked Zuckerberg who writes Facebook’s algorithm.
“Was there a directive to put this bias in?” he said, before asking if Zuckerberg was aware of such a bias.
In his response, Zuckerberg claimed there is “absolutely no directive in any of the changes that we make to have a bias in anything that we do. To the contrary, our goal is to be a platform for all ideas.”
Despite Zuckerberg’s claims, The Western Journal’s analysis indicated that Facebook’s 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 completely, and in the long-term could swing elections in the United States and around the world toward liberal politicians and policies.
Scalise was not the first GOP lawmaker to ask Zuckerberg about Facebook’s alleged bias against conservatives.
As The Western Journal reported, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz asked the Facebook CEO pointed questions Tuesday about Facebook’s political standpoint and the possible censorship of conservative views on the platform.
“Does Facebook consider itself a neutral public forum?” Cruz asked. “Are you a First Amendment speaker expressing your views or are you a neutral public forum allowing everyone to speak?”
Zuckerberg responded saying that there is certain content that is not allowed — hate speech, terrorist content, nudity — and that they refer to themselves as “a platform for all ideas.”
The senator pressed again, saying that it is a “simple question” whether or not Facebook is “engaged in political speech which is (their) right under the First Amendment.”
The Facebook CEO said that though the company’s “goal is certainly not to engage in political speech,” he was “just trying to lay out how broadly I think about this.”
Cruz then told Zuckerberg that there are many Americans who are concerned about Facebook’s political bias in what they show on their platform.
“There have been numerous instances with Facebook in May of 2016 as Gizmodo reported that Facebook had purposefully and routinely suppressed conservative stories from conservative news,” the senator pointed out. These stories include ones about CPAC, Mitt Romney and Rand Paul.
As Cruz pointed out, Facebook also had blocked a post from a Fox News reporter and “over two dozen” Catholic pages.
“This is actually a concern that I have, and that I try to root out at the company — is making sure that we don’t have any bias in the work that we do,” Zuckerberg responded. “I think it is a fair concern that people would at least wonder about.”
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