Why the right-wing has a massive advantage on Facebook

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Why the right-wing has a massive advantage on Facebook

“This is not made up by social media. You just see these reflexes, which are reflected in social media. They are not generated by social media,” added the CEO. “That’s why tabloids do better than that [Financial Times]and it’s a human thing too. People respond much more to appealing emotions than to dry reporting. … This wasn’t invented 15 years ago when Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook. “

In the final phase of the 2020 campaign, the most engaging Facebook posts in the US most days – in terms of likes, comments, shares and reactions – came from conservative voices outside the mainstream media: Dan Bongino, Ben Shapiro, David Harris, Jr., Franklin Graham and “Blue Lives Matter” according to Facebook’s own tool, Crowdtangle. Trump’s personal page is also regularly at the top of the list so that he can become a publisher and navigate traditional media.

Left posts make the daily top 25 much less common. Former Labor Minister Robert Reich and the Facebook-savvy Occupy Democrats are among the sites that occasionally show such commitment.

The growth of right-wing content on the platform has enraged liberals who accuse the social media giant of crouching to the right for fear of being painted as left-biased. It has also exacerbated the brawl between left and right across the social network weeks before the election as both parties seek to sway the platform’s policies.

After Trump effectively used Facebook in 2016 to offset a significant monetary disadvantage, it has become a central theater in the election war. Trump and Biden have so far spent over $ 173 million on ads on the platform and are expected to spend tens of millions more dollars more, according to the company’s political ad tracker (Trump over $ 109 million and Biden over $ 64 million -Dollar).

Ads are just a battlefield, however. Both parties are fighting for high engagement for organic content, which is much more common. Essentially, it is the difference between “earned media” – or news agency coverage of the candidates – and pay-TV advertising.

This focus on organic posts is why Bongino and Shapiro’s success on the left has caused so much frustration, along with allegations that Facebook has a pro-conservative bias.

Liberal group Media Matters, best known for tracking conservative television and radio, is now monitoring 5,250 Facebook pages and groups that it has found to be either influential or worrying, according to spokeswoman Laura Keiter. “There is something [at Facebook] that reflexively or deliberately calms the right wing, “said Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters.

Adam Conner, who worked for Facebook in Washington from 2007 to 2014 and is now Vice President for Tech Policy at the Liberal Center for American Progress Action, told POLITICO: “It is absurd for Facebook to say that this is just something that is neutral plays away. This feels like giving up responsibility. He added that ‘Facebook is not a mirror – the newsfeed algorithm is an accelerator. “

The Biden campaign also beat up Facebook for arguing that the right-wing’s success on the platform simply reflects society.

“The Facebook platform is fine a mirror – a fun house mirror,” said campaign spokesman Bill Russo. “One that has transformed and distorted our world and politics into something barely discernible, where conspiracy theories and disinformation are rife. This is not a feature.” of our society that we simply have to accept. It is a choice to develop an algorithm that feeds the distrust and polarization that are tearing us apart. “

The Republicans were just as critical of Facebook in the run-up to the elections. Speaking to nine attorneys general this week, Trump said the government was considering “concrete legal action” against social media sites to limit the reach of conservatives “at the urging of the radical left.”

Facebook says that the most engaging content isn’t necessarily the most viewed – the political tariff, according to the company, is actually a small percentage of what people see on the platform. User newsfeeds are filled with more impartial pop culture content than the engagement list suggests. according to John Hegeman, the company’s head of newsfeed.

Facebook does not provide any data on which articles and posts have the greatest reach, but is trying to find a way to make this information publicly available.

The Facebook executive argued that the frustration on the left over fighting right-wing populism is another example of social media reflecting rather than creating an existing dynamic.

“If you’re a partisan on the far left, why can’t you fight fire with fire?” said the executive. “This debate among progressives – [and] I count myself as a center-left progressive – it’s as old as the hills. All center-left activists and politicians always ask, “Why not? [we] seem to upset their supporters as much as right-wing populists? “

Some conservatives also argue that they invested in the platform early on to bypass the left-wing mainstream press.

“What’s really going on here is obvious to anyone who pays attention: the mainstream media want to censor content from other sources in order to regain control of the news it lost when the internet broke its monopoly” said John Bickley, editor in chief of the conservative side The Daily Wire, wrote Thursday. The Daily Wire was the top news publisher on Facebook by engagement in July and August this year. according to NewsWhip.

In an email to POLITICO, Bickley added, “It also makes sense to me for social media users to be more concerned with content that has a clearer perspective or a stronger view of stories – and especially those that are predominant Push back narratives with obvious flaws. ”Ben Shapiro, founding editor of The Daily Wire, has had over 175 million engagements on his Facebook page as of June 21, compared to just 27 million on the New York Times Facebook page per CrowdTangle .

After years in Washington where Facebook was viewed as an amusing curiosity, its founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has sought to counter criticism of Facebook’s role in the 2016 elections and American politics in a broader sense.

Members of both parties are increasingly threatening to dismantle the so-called Section 230 protection, which protects Facebook and other Internet companies from liability.

“I’ve never been a fan of Facebook, as you probably know. I’ve never been a huge Zuckerberg fan. I think he’s a real problem,” said Biden The New York Times Editing last year. “Section 230 should be revoked, should be revoked immediately.” The Trump administration featured this week a bill to bypass these protections.

Liberals are also still concerned about the role Facebook played in Hillary Clinton’s surprise defeat. However, Republicans counter that the Democrats had no problem with the company in 2012 when Facebook engineers allowed the Obama campaign to bypass some internal protections designed to protect user privacy. Facebook sighed and said, “You can do this as long as you stop on November 7th,” said Will St. Clair, who helped write the Obama campaign’s Facebook program The New York Times In 2013.

The company with its largely liberal workforce has defended itself against allegations of censorship by the Republicans – and also careless in enforcing its rules with some popular conservative sites. In one case, according to NBC News, the company put out “strikes” and downgraded violations because of the disclosure of misinformation by Trump deputies Diamond & Silk. Democrats, meanwhile, argue that it is ridiculous for conservatives to claim that Facebook is suppressing content when many of their sites are so popular.

Facebook employees have challenged Zuckerberg with company-wide Q&A on these topics, and the CEO has stood up to his progressive workforce.

“The community we serve is on average a little more ideologically conservative than our employees,” Zuckerberg said during one such forum on June 18, according to a report this week by The edge. “Maybe” a little “is an understatement … If we are to really do a good job of serving people, [we have to take] Take into account that there are different views on different things and that if someone disagrees with one view, it does not necessarily mean that they are hateful or have bad intentions. “

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