Algorithms, Shadow Banning and Controlling the Narrative
Stewart pointed me to an interesting article on Facebook by Entertainment Weekly (EW):
In the article, Fidji Simo, Facebook’s vice president of video states:
“To be totally transparent, I find Infowars to be absolutely atrocious,” Simo replied. “That being said, we have the hard job of balancing freedom of expression and safety. So the way we navigate that is we think there’s a pretty big difference between what is allowed on Facebook and what gets distribution. So what we’re trying to do is make it so that if you are saying something that’s untrue on Facebook — you’re allowed to say it as long as you’re an authentic person and you adhere to our community standards — but we’re trying to make it so it doesn’t get that much distribution .… We don’t always get it right, as you can imagine, it’s very complicated, but that’s sort of our principle for dealing with information.”
I was immediately struck by the contradictions inherent in what Simo was saying. First he claims they have an obligation to promote freedom of expression, while at the same time promoting safety. He then goes on to tell us how Facebook limits the distribution of ideas it considers to be “untrue”; which is another way of saying they are attempting to block what they consider to be “Fake News”. The decision on what is “true” and what is “untrue” is made, of course by them. Yet, further in the article Simo points out that CNN is permitted on Facebook, yet they don’t seem to be limited. Neither, I might point out, is the SPLC.
How do they limit the distribution? Using algorithms to identify questionable content and then discouraging its users from disseminating those “flagged” stories.
“When we have something that we think — that a fact checker has told is probably not true, or a lot of our audience is telling us is not true, we just limit distribution. We tell our algorithms that this is probably not something we want to see distributed widely. So that’s one way. Another way, a lot of how misinformation spreads, is by people sharing the content.… We actually pop up a module that says, ‘Hey you’re about to share something our fact checker thinks is inaccurate, you may not want to do that.’ That decreases distribution very dramatically, north of 80 percent, that’s very effective at reducing the spread of it.”
Who are the “fact checkers”? If your fact checkers are predominately of one philosophical, or political, persuasion, it is not surprising that they tend to label as “untrue” commentaries, or stories, that are in opposition to the “fact checker’s” beliefs. This becomes apparent when conservatives are the ones being prevented from distribution, but Far Left writers are rarely blocked.
This is shadow banning with an anti-conservative bent.
Facebook, of course, claims they are not shadow banning conservatives, but merely banning certain ideas. It just happens that some conservative ideas are on the list of unsuitable, or “untrue” topics. In other words, they have carefully devised their algorithms to flag the topics, and not the individuals, or groups. They are hiding behind the algorithms as a feigned defense of their censorship. Hypocrisy.
In another article which appeared on the Left-leaning Vice:
Twitter is limiting the visibility of prominent Republicans in search results — a technique known as “shadow banning” — in what it says is a side effect of its attempts to improve the quality of discourse on the platform.
Here we have a Left-leaning website pointing out Twitter’s obvious shadow banning of Republicans during an election year.
Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all do their best to suppress news and opinions counter to their own, all while claiming to be bastions of free speech. Baloney. Their use of shadow banning and carefully crafted algorithms confirms their attempts at censoring opposition free speech.
Just as CNN, and the rest of the Mainstream Media, are seeing drops in viewers, as more people seek alternative news and entertainment, so are people beginning to turn away from Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, when they see the blatant censorship occurring on those platforms.
You can fool some of the people all the time, all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all of the time. – Abraham Lincoln
As Stewart Rhodes told me: “Facebook admits it buries Inforwars stories or others in alternative media, but that is not enough for the mainstream leftwing press: They want MORE censorship and more shadow banning and burying. They want the equivalent of a Soviet style censorship system on Facebook, to nix all alternative thought or views.”