WASHINGTON (TND) — The Wall Street Journal’s Jeff Horwitz obtained a trove of leaked internal Facebook documents revealing apparent infighting at Facebook over how to treat conservative news outlets like Breitbart News.
The Wall Street Journal said it found communications from a company racial-justice chat board, with a message titled: “Get Breitbart out of News Tab.” The message was reportedly littered with screenshots of Breitbart headlines, according to the Journal, including “Minneapolis Mayhem: Riots in Masks,” “Massive Looting, Buildings in Flames, Bonfires!” and “BLM Protesters Pummel Police Cars on 101.”
The Journal reported many employees felt similarly but others, who challenged the possibility of axing Breitbart from its “news tab," did not.
A senior Facebook researcher reportedly said that “news framing is not a standard by which we approach journalistic integrity.” The senior researcher added that Breitbart could be axed if the news maker’s reliability scores went down, but he questioned whether the same action would be taken against other outlets which have seen their own scores for trust and quality go down.
I can also tell you that we saw drops in trust in CNN 2 years ago: would we take the same approach for them too?” the senior researcher reportedly wrote, according to The Journal.
In the Journal’s report was a 2019 study done by Facebook researchers, which shows the company’s algorithmic manipulation is negatively impacting a much larger swath of major right-wing news publishers than left-wing news publishers. Some of the outlets most impacted, according to the study, included Breitbart, The Washington Times, and The Western Journal.
Since that study, Facebook has shut down other research groups seeking to better understand Facebook’s algorithmic manipulation. German-based AlgorithmWatch sought to better understand how Facebook-owned Instagram prioritizes content but was ultimately shut down by Facebook.
Facebook argued the company was violating its rules, including taking users’ data without their consent.
The New York University Ad Observatory also had their research into political advertising on the platform banned by Facebook.
Facebook provides tools to obtain data, but independent researchers say they cannot rely on it. “There is no reason to believe that Facebook would provide usable data, were researchers to replace their independently collected data with the company’s.”