An in-depth analysis of Facebook’s publicized algorithm change has revealed that the social media giant is drastically reducing users’ news feeds to conservative outlet websites – while boosting those of liberal publishers.
[C]onservative publishers have lost an average of nearly 14 percent of their traffic from Facebook, [while] liberal publishers have gained about 2 percent more web traffic from Facebook than they were getting prior to the algorithm changes implemented in early February,” researchers from The Western Journal divulged. “This algorithm change has, in effect, censored conservative viewpoints on the largest social media platform in the world – [a] change that in the short-term, [is] causing conservative publishers to downsize or fold up completely, and in the long-term, could swing elections in the United States and around the world toward liberal politicians and policies.”
Making its case in point, two of New York City’s rival publishers that cover similar topics with different editorial slants were examined by The Western Journal -- the overtly right-leaning New York Post and the far-left New York Daily News.
“For example, the Daily News recently ran a headline after the Parkland shooting that read, ‘Brave Florida survivors plan day of action for gun sanity and to call out ‘blood on hands’ of NRA puppets,’ [and] headlines like that garnered the Daily News a 24.18 percent increase in traffic from Facebook, while the right-leaning Post’s traffic dropped 11.44 percent in the same time period,” The Western Journal’s George Upper reported.
This is not the only evidence pointing to Facebook’s maneuver of shifting the political tide of America to the left.
“These results are similar to the ‘surprisingly profound and partisan’ findings of analysis conducted by The Outline,” Upper noted. “However, whereas The Outline analyzed user engagement on Facebook itself, The Western Journal looked at actual traffic driven to news websites by Facebook – which directly impacts revenue for these sites.”
A negative effect on traffic to Republican Web pages – not just conservative news sites – was also witnessed as a result of Facebook’s algorithm change.
“Facebook’s recent changes to users’ newsfeeds had caused engagement on President Trump’s page to drop by 45 percent – almost half,” Breitbart News reported. “This was followed by a story in The Outline, which revealed that the engagement of conservative sites, including Fox News, Breitbart News, and Gateway Pundit had also taken a hit – while mainstream sites like CNN and the New York Times were largely unaffected.”
The head of Facebook’s News Partnerships team, Campbell Brown – a former anchor on NBC and CNN – contended that Facebook made the change to censor news publishers according to its own internal biases on key issues.
“This is not us stepping back from news – this is us changing our relationship with publishers and emphasizing something that Facebook has never done before … It’s having a point of view, and it’s leaning into quality news,” Brown explained to attendees at recent technology and publishing conference, according to Recode.net. “We are – for the first time in the history of Facebook – taking a step to try to to define what ‘quality news’ looks like and give that a boost.”
Apparently, to Facebook, the best news coverage out there is liberal.
“Based on The Western Journal’s analysis – and an overwhelming amount of insider reports from new media publishers – it is clear that Facebook’s definition of ‘quality news’ is news with a liberal slant,” Upper pointed out.
Numbers speak volumes
The analysis proving Facebook’s clear political bias to shape Americans’ take on hot-topic issues was by no means weighted, as researchers used a wide array of media outlets from both the right and the left before coming to the conclusion that Facebook is the orchestrator of a new leftist news movement.
“To conduct this evaluation, The Western Journal selected 50 publishers known to receive a significant amount of online traffic from Facebook,” Upper explained. “These publishers include traditional print or television outlets such as The Washington Post, CNN and Fox News, as well as new media outlets like Salon, Vox and The Daily Caller. The Western Journal then assigned each publisher a number between 0 and 100 based on Media Bias/Fact Check News – a third party website that analyzes publishers for political bias and places them on a continuum between ‘extreme left’ and ‘extreme right.’ Next, The Western Journal checked the monthly Facebook traffic for each of these sources using data from global digital market intelligence company, SimilarWeb, and compared January traffic to traffic from Feb. 4 through Mar. 3, adjusted for the slightly shorter time period. According to available internal data, Facebook began rolling out this major algorithm change on Feb. 6.”
After examining the results, the negative impact on conservative publishers was clear.
“The 25 on the liberal side of the scale averaged a 1.86-percent boost in traffic from Facebook, whereas the 25 news organizations on the conservative side averaged a 13.71-percent decrease in traffic,” Upper revealed. “Based on this analysis, it is clear that liberal news sites are being promoted in Facebook users’ news feeds more often than conservative sites.”
Looking at the numbers a bit closer, the designed trend of shifting social media followers to the left becomes obvious.
“After removing the 15 publishers with the least traffic from Facebook, the trend becomes even more clear,” Upper asserted. “Of the remaining 35 news sources, the 12 most liberal sites averaged a boost of 0.21 percent – in other words, they don’t appear to have been affected in any meaningful way. The 11 sites in the middle – which ranged from ‘left-center’ to ‘least biased’ on the MBFC News scale – saw a significant increase in Facebook traffic of 12.81 percent.”
When comparing viewership directed to right-leaning news sites with traffic driven to left-leaning media hubs, the contrast becomes more than apparent.
“The 12 most conservatives sites lost an average of 27.06 percent of their traffic from Facebook,” Upper stressed. “Of the 12 most liberal sites, six saw double-digit decreases in traffic, while four saw double-digit increases and two – The Washington Post and HuffPo – saw single-digit increases. CNN’s traffic increased 43.78 percent. Of the 11 sites in the middle of the scale, nine saw traffic increase. Only two – CBS News and The Atlantic – saw a traffic decrease. Among those 11, only two – USA Today and The Economist – can truly be considered centrist, according to the MSFC News scale. Their traffic increased by 23.16 percent and 1.12 percent, respectively.”
News outlets leaning toward the right that benefitted from Facebook’s algorithm change were the exception – not the rule.
“Of the 12 most conservative sites, only two benefited from increased Facebook traffic – the Daily Mail with 3.51 percent and Fox News with 31.67 percent,” Upper continued. “The other 10 saw decreases ranging from 3.13 percent at Breitbart to a whopping 76.49 percent at Independent Journal Review. On Feb. 15, IJR announced significant layoffs to an ‘already skeletal staff,’ The Daily Caller reported. Rare, a conservative leaning news media publication owned by Cox Media Group, experienced a 68.7 percent drop in traffic after the algorithm change. Rare will shut down entirely at the end of the month, Axios reported.”
More incontrovertible evidence …
More changes in the way America views news was noticed as a result of Facebook’s engineered shift to the left.
“The average impact per news site with the most desktop sessions from Facebook also varied significantly depending on the political leaning of the site,” Upper noted. “Fox News was the only conservative site that saw significant growth in this calculation. If Fox were removed from the group of 12 conservative sites shown above, the average drop would grow to 32.4 percent among the remaining 11.”
Campbell confirmed that Facebook’s “move fast, break things” attitude goes hand-in-hand with its history of manually and intentionally suppressing conservative news – as the social media giant no longer pursues its previous goal of becoming a neutral platform for news and information.
“How this manifests in the coming months is not totally clear to us right now,” Campbell admitted at the event held by Recode. “These are conversations we’ve just started having with a lot of publishers. But in terms of us taking a big step in that direction, I think, yes, I think this is, I think this is us having a very clear point of view.”