Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Facebook is a Republican rag

Here is a bit of news about Facebook, news supported by evidence collected by Judd Legum at popular.info.. You can go to his site and inspect the data yourself. Those data are supplemental to my post about Facebook earlier this month: Why everyone should get off of Facebook - It’s a Trumpublican mouthpiece.

On Monday, Popular Information revealed how The Daily Wire, a toxic right-wing website, has been able to achieve phenomenal success on Facebook, in part, through gaming the system. The investigation revealed “a clandestine network of 14 large Facebook pages that purport to be independent but exclusively promote content from The Daily Wire in a coordinated fashion.”

This network appeared to be in blatant violation of Facebook’s rule against “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” But Facebook told Popular Information that it would not take any action against these pages.

While Popular Information’s reporting indicated that this was a coordinated astroturf campaign to enable The Daily Wire to game the Facebook algorithm, the new Facebook statement presented a different narrative. The activity of these pages was “real” — authentic and genuine expressions of the “real people” behind them.

On the surface, this statement makes little sense. The pages are clearly managed not by individual “real people” but by a central authority. That authority is using the pages exclusively promote The Daily Wire. At 12:02 PM on Tuesday, for example, 13 pages all tweeted the same story from The Daily Wire with the same text.

Perhaps, as Facebook’s statement suggests, these are just a group of 13 “real people” who got together and decided to promote The Daily Wire in a coordinated fashion. It’s a nice story, but Popular Information has uncovered information proving that it isn’t true. At least two of these pages are owned by the parent company of The Daily Wire, Forward Publishing.

… despite Facebook’s claim, this network is not run by “real people.” It’s run by The Daily Wire.

But why is it such a big advantage? Facebook’s algorithm rewards content that is shared from multiple profiles. By clandestinely controlling more than a dozen pages, The Daily Wire makes it appear as if all of its content is being broadly shared.

How important is this? The proof is in the pudding. Each article from The Daily Wire gets far more engagement on Facebook than any other significant publisher.

By justifying The Daily Wire’s deceptive conduct, Facebook is allowing far-right content to flourish at the expense of everything else.

So why are we - that is, thee and me - subscribing to Facebook? Why are we implicitly supporting this Republican rag?

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