When Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed privacy concerns during a Senate hearing two weeks ago he launched into a staunch defense of his company’s purported values, despite controversies related to the 2016 presidential election.
According to a report in the Washington Free Beacon, in a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees, Zuckerberg testified about the use of data by Cambridge Analytica, a firm employed by Trump’s presidential campaign. Zuckerberg said Facebook “failed” to protect users’ information in the case of Cambridge Analytica, which used millions of users’ data to target voters in the 2016 election.
Zuckerberg also spoke more broadly about his company’s aims to deal with other politically charged issues, such as fake news and hate speech. It has been alleged that Facebook staff who refused to eliminate fake news were terminated from their positions. Zuckerberg tried to battle down accusations that the social media powerhouse that he runs has a definite liberal bent. Substantive charges have been made that Facebook has essentially fire the first salvo in a punitive war on political conservatives.
Moreover, on these pages, the Jewish Voice has on several previous occasions, voiced its outrage over the fact that its Facebook page has also been targeted by the liberal staff that oversees content at the social media platform.
David Ben Hooren, the publisher of the Jewish Voice recently said that the newspaper’s numbers in terms of “likes” and viewer participation has been significantly and purposely altered for the worse.
In order to illustrate his point, Ben Hooren said, “Throughout the months of February, March and April of this year, our “like” clicks went down by 250. We have lost 100 likes and we have seen no gain. It is very clear to me that our page is being manipulated and targeted by those at Facebook who do not want us to succeed as a legitimate news portal.
Ben Hooren added that, “back in January we had 1000 join our Facebook page. For quite some time we had 10,000 people per engagement on Facebook and now we have 1000. We know that there are outside forces who are attempting to place infringements on our constitutional right of free speech.”
In previously published article on Facebook in the Jewish Voice, it said that Breitbart news recently reported on how the engagement on Trump’s Facebook posts have dropped 45% in recent months. Since January, response to Trump’s posts have dropped from close to 5 million a post to under 3 million and Trump is not posting less.
In January, Facebook introduced a major change to its newsfeed algorithm. In a post, CEO Mark Zuckerberg claimed that the change aimed to give greater emphasis to posts from “friends, family and groups” and less to “businesses, brands and media.” The change was followed by a promise to promote what Facebook calls “broadly trusted” news sources on the platform, Breitbart reported.
The Jewish Voice article made a noteworthy observation: “What is most interesting about the recent Breitbart piece is that they determined the Facebook engagements of left leaning political figures like Bernie Sanders & Elizabeth Warren has remained the same. This surely gives credence to the notion that the social media giants are censoring conservatives. If they are using an algorithm to limit exposure of the president, I think it is safe to say they can do it to anyone, and they are.”
According to reports published in USA Today and other such publications, it appears that under intense scrutiny and pressure from free speech advocates, Conservatives and others, this week Facebook said it would task advisers with the job of investigating charges that Conservative voices are intentionally muted and routinely suppressed by the powers that be at the social media hub.
Although claims have been made for several years by a cornucopia of politically conservative organizations and individuals that the liberal and politically left leaning staff at Facebook have been doling out tendentious treatment, the growing list of grievances now seems to be granted a degree of gravitas. Reports indicate that Facebook has conceded that it committed errors in moderating the seemingly infinite amount of content that gets funneled through its platform.
“It’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm as well, and that goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy,” Zuckerberg said. “We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake—and it was my mistake and I’m sorry.”
As was reported by USA Today, a joint statement this week from more than 60 conservatives, including former attorney general Edwin Meese and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, demanded that Facebook and other tech giants “rectify their credibility with the conservative movement” by explaining why content is taken down and accounts deleted and by including more conservative groups on its list of advisers.
“Social media censorship and online restriction of conservatives and their organizations have reached a crisis level,” the statement read. “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s hearings on Capitol Hill only served to draw attention to how widespread this problem has become.”
Facebook issued a statement saying that former Arizona Republican senator Jon Kyl and a team at the Washington law firm of Covington and Burling will solicit feedback from conservative groups.
The Heritage Foundation, one of the more influential Washington think tanks that focus on Conservative public policy has plans to meet with Facebook executives.
Klon Kitchen, the Heritage Foundation’s senior fellow for technology told USA Today that, “I think it’s wholly right that conservatives want to be treated fairly and enjoy the benefits of the service like anyone else.”
Kitchen added that “If Facebook is doing a reasonable job of that now, it’s up to Facebook to make that case. If there are systemic problems, they should deal with that, not only to do well as a company, but also for the sake of consumers to provide the best product possible.”
Last month, Facebook published internal guidelines used to decide what users can and cannot post on the social network and introduced an appeals process for Facebook users who believe their posts were removed in error.
Such prominent web sites as Breitbart have charged Facebook with manipulating algorithms in order to “disappear” conservative content on a number of issues including immigration.
Conservative groups ran ads: “Don’t get Zucked. End Facebook’s censorship of conservatives.”
“There are a great many Americans who I think are deeply concerned that Facebook and other tech companies are engaged in a pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
On Tuesday May 8, it was reported that “Diamond and Silk” – the pro-Trump YouTube stars with a large Facebook following are claiming they are being censored by Facebook for promoting the president and his agenda.
Lynette “Diamond” Hardaway and Rochelle “Silk” Richardson, two sisters from North Carolina believe that all people, irrespective of their political viewpoints, should have unfettered access to freely express themselves on Facebook. They are now calling for a personal meeting with Zuckerberg to discuss their grievances.
Referring to Zuckerberg, Hardaway told US Today by phone that, “We don’t want him to be afraid of two African-American women. We would like to sit down and talk to him. He needs to know from a conservative point of view: This is what’s working, this is what’s not working.”
The Jewish Voice has extensively covered Facebook and social media censorship, below is a list of links to other articles on this important topic:
By: Ariella Haviv