Facebook Reportedly Stymied Traffic to Left-Leaning News Outlets - 2020-10-17
According to a Wall Street Journal report this week, Facebook bigwigs at the time were concerned about how these changes would affect right-leaning news outlets and wanted to avoid adding fuel to critics' argument that the platform has an anti-conservative bias. However, in its attempt to appear unbiased, the company evidently overcorrected (which it has a history of doing). Facebook's engineers overhauled the update to affect left-leaning sites more than previously planned, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself OK'd the redesign, sources told the Journal. The changes weren't aimed at any particular outlet, the company later said.
"We did not make changes with the intent of impacting individual publishers," a Facebook spokesperson told the outlet.
One of the sites the report cited as being negatively affected by this redesign is Mother Jones, a renowned investigative news outlet. In response to the Journal's exposé, Mother Jones editorial director for growth and strategy Ben Dreyfuss wrote a scathing critique of Facebook that details years of frustrating and strained relations with the company. He said that in multiple meetings with Facebook execs in 2017 and 2018, he was assured that while publishers could expect traffic to lag after the algorithmic changes, it was "not in a way that favored or disfavored any single publication or class of publisher."