If the claims are accurate, Facebook contractors have depressed some conservative news, and their curatorial hand affects the Facebook Trending list more than the public realizes.
As this conversation swirls around intentions and explicit manipulation, there are some significant issues missing.
As we move into the development of algorithmic models to shape editorial decisions and curation, we need to find a sophisticated way of grappling with the biases that shape development, training sets, quality assurance, and error correction, not to mention an explicit act of human judgment.
What is of concern right now is not that human beings are playing a role in shaping the news — they always have — it is the veneer of objectivity provided by Facebook s interface, the claims of neutrality enabled by the integration of algorithmic processes, and the assumption that what is prioritized reflects only the interests and actions of the users the public sphere and not those of Facebook, advertisers, or other powerful entities.
As part of this process, we convened a workshop and have produced a series of documents that we think are valuable to the conversation:
These documents provide historical context, highlight how media has always been engaged in power struggles, showcase the challenges that new media face, and offer case studies that reveal the complexities going forward.
My hope is that we quickly leave the state of fear and start imagining mechanisms of accountability that we, as a society, can live with.