Following a recent Gizmodo story alleging that Facebook's "trending topics” are curated through processes more editorial than algorithmic, conservative outlets seized on the news as fresh evidence in its crusade against the 'liberal media'.
According to the report, at least one former news curator at Facebook claims that right-leaning topics were "routinely suppressed on user newsfeeds while more liberal subjects were promoted - regardless of whether they were ever truly 'trending'”.
This on the heels of recent allegations by Curt Schilling that conservative views at ESPN are often censored by left-leaning executives at the sports and entertainment giant.
Since it's an election year, these assertions have only fed longstanding claims by Republicans about the bias of liberal elites in technology and media and its influence on our politics. But what does the data truly say about the political views of "content curators"? We dug in to our database and found some surprising results.
As we've reported previously, the executives and employees of Facebook skew far to the left politically, based on their political donations. While it has been recently revealed that Tom Stocky, Facebook's VP of Search, who manages the "trending" feature for the platform, is a major donor to Hillary Clinton, our exclusive data - based on all his contributions - shows that he is further to the left, clocking out as a 7.2L on the Crowdpac spectrum (compared to Clinton's 6.5L). As it happens, the rest of Facebook's "content team" skews even further to the left at 8.3L based on previous donations to political candidates and causes.
But it turns out that the content teams at other major digital media platforms, such as Yahoo, Google and Twitter, are just as liberal - with scores ranging from 7.2L to 8.3L, close to “democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders.
And ESPN? The executives who Schilling alleges are stifling conservative views are indeed on the liberal end of the spectrum, but decidedly more moderate at 3.4L.
Lately the focus has shifted towards the Washington Post and its owner, Jeff Bezos, being more liberal than they let on. This seems accurate given editors and journalists average to a very liberal score of 8.1L.
Facebook continues to flatly deny that any viewpoints were suppressed or discriminated against by its news curators. But one thing is for sure - if the politics of your Facebook newsfeed is truly influenced by the editorial views of its staff, it may not be the only guilty platform.