The CNN search engine? Google favors stories from liberal news sites, study finds

Screen Shot 2019-05-13 at 3.03.29 PM

When it comes to political bias online, left-leaning Facebook and Twitter have been the most common punching bags, but a new study confirms that Google’s search algorithms are also skewed in favor of liberal viewpoints.

Researchers from Northwestern University performed an “algorithm audit” of the ‘Google Top Stories’ box, which is a major driver of traffic to news publishers and therefore prime online real estate. They examined results for nearly 200 searches relating to news events for one month in late 2017 and found “a left-leaning ideological skew.”

ALSO ON RT.COMGoogle flipped seats, shifted millions of votes to Dems in 2018 midterms, researcher tells RT

 

The researchers did allow some leeway for Google to defend itself, however, saying that while the left-leaning bias was detected, it is possible that the dominance of particular sources is a result of “successful strategic behavior” by those sources to achieve “algorithmic recognizability” — but whatever the reason, liberal sources still far eclipsed conservatives ones.

CNN, perhaps the outlet most-reviled by conservatives, was Google’s overall favorite source. Of the 6,302 articles appearing on Google’s ‘top stories’ during the month in focus, more than 10 percent came from CNN. The New York Times and Washington Post were up next, garnering 6.5 and 5.6 percent of the results, respectively.

Screen Shot 2019-05-13 at 3.06.37 PM

Fox News, the most mainstream right-wing outlet, was the source for only 3 percent of stories appearing in the top box. Then it was back to liberal outlets, with the BBC, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, Politico and ABC News filling out the rest of the top 10. Overall, 62.4 percent of the most common sources were left-leaning, while only 11.3 perfect were said to be right-leaning.

Ironically, despite the heavy promotion from Google in the online realm, CNN’s overall audience declined by a colossal 26 percent in April compared to a year earlier — and network boss Jeff Zucker admitted last November that CNN’s audience just “goes away” any time the channel switches from its (overwhelmingly negative) coverage of President Donald Trump to other topics. So it seems CNN is stuck in a vicious cycle; criticized for focusing too much on negative Trump stories, yet not being able to stop for fear of losing more viewers.

Screen Shot 2019-05-13 at 3.08.55 PM

Perhaps an even more damning indictment than Google’s detected liberal bias, however, is that nearly all (86 percent) of the stories promoted by the search giant came from just 20 sources across the entire internet, which doesn’t exactly display much of a commitment to diversity of information and opinion.

ALSO ON RT.COM‘Poisonous connection’ of big tech: Google staff confer over anti-Trump search tweak

Publishers selected for the top box receive “a significant boost in traffic” which demonstrates Google’s ability to “pick winners and losers” based on where they decide to direct most of our attention. Such power and bias in favor of major sources could also be linked to the decline of local news, which is competing in an unfair online environment, the study suggested.

The detection of Google’s left-leaning preferences will hardly come as a shock to conservatives, who have been complaining in recent years that powerful online platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google have all shown clear bias against conservative perspectives. The grumbling has not been without cause, either.

Most recently, Facebook slapped a number of popular conservative commentators with permanent lifetime bans — and Twitter has been caught out ‘shadowbanning’ Republicans and is accused of being quicker to suspend or ban conservative users over liberals for alleged rule-breaking.

Yet, while Facebook and Twitter have engaged in what many analysts and critics are calling direct political censorship, the story is more complicated when it comes to Google.

The researchers found that it’s not simply whether a source is left or right-leaning that determines whether it goes into the top stories box. Writing for the Columbia Journalism Review, one of the study authors acknowledged that there appears to be more news produced on the left overall, something which also affects the results. Even so, Google’s curation algorithms were still found to be “slightly magnifying” the already left-leaning skew in online news production.

Then there’s the bias toward timeliness; the fresher the story, the more likely it was to be promoted in the top box. The researchers called this Google’s “predilection towards recency” and said that huge news organizations like CNN which have the potential to quickly generate fresh content “may be better positioned” to garner more attention.

If Google really values diversity, the authors suggest it should acknowledge that high-quality journalism can have a longer shelf life and “consider relaxing the timeliness constraint to widen the scope of sources available to its curation algorithm.”

ALSO ON RT.COMFive examples that show internet censorship is as much a threat to the left as the right

The results put to bed the notion, promoted by many Democrats and liberals that Google algorithm bias is a myth. Rep. Jerry Nadler last year called the notion of liberal bias online a “delusion” and a “right-wing conspiracy theory” — although Nadler, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee is still a chief proponent of the disproven conspiracy theory that Trump colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election.

Google has always denied that it is politically biased or abusing its monopoly position, but it looks like the search engine has plenty of work to do on its curation algorithms before it can convince anyone of its fairness.

Facebook co-founder says it’s ‘time to break up’ the social media giant in scathing op-ed

CAP

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes has called for the break-up of the social media behemoth and lamented the “staggering” and “unchecked” power of CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a lengthy and searing oped.

Hughes co-founded Facebook with Zuckerberg in a Harvard dorm room in 2004 and watched “in awe” as the company grew over the last 15 years — but said he now feels a “sense of anger and responsibility” about how all-powerful and out-of-control the social media giant has become.

Lashing out at the company, Hughes wrote in a piece published by the New York Times that Zuckerberg’s power and influence goes “far beyond that of anyone else in the private sector or in government.”

See the source image

“There is no precedent for [Zuckerberg’s] ability to monitor, organize and even censor the conversations of two billion people.”

Hughes berates Facebook over “sloppy privacy practices,” “violent rhetoric and fake news,” and the “unbounded drive to capture ever more of our time and attention.” It’s not that Zuckerberg is a bad person, he writes, but “he’s human” and his focus on growth “led him to sacrifice security and civility for clicks.”

ALSO ON RT.COMFacebook ban on Alex Jones and others is a form of modern-day book burningHughes also bemoans the fact that the powerful CEO controls three core communications platforms (Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp) and says that lack of competition, market or government regulation is a major problem. If a competitor crops up, Zuckerberg can simply choose to shut it down “by acquiring, blocking or copying it” in the manner it did with the Instagram and WhatsApp mergers.

The lack of competition means that “every time Facebook messes up, we repeat an exhausting pattern: first outrage, then disappointment and, finally, resignation.”

See the source image

“Mark alone can decide how to configure Facebook’s algorithms to determine what people see in their News Feeds, what privacy settings they can use and even which messages get delivered.”

Hughes also worries that Zuckerberg has “surrounded himself with a team that reinforces his beliefs instead of challenging them.” He believes that neither Facebook’s offer to appoint a “privacy czar” or the expected Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fine of $5 billion will be enough to rein in the company.

The answer and solution lies in more government regulation and subsequent market competition, Hughes says. But Facebook isn’t afraid of just “a few more rules,” so the action needs to be more dramatic, he suggests.

“The American government needs to do two things: break up Facebook’s monopoly and regulate the company to make it more accountable to the American people.”

That will involve separating Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram into three individual companies and banning future acquisitions “for several years.”

The FTC should never have permitted these mergers, but it’s “not too late to act.” There is “precedent for correcting bad decisions,” he says, pointing to 2009 when Whole Foods settled antitrust complaints by selling off the Wild Oats brand and stores it had acquired years earlier.

ALSO ON RT.COMFacebook ban on Alex Jones and others is a form of modern-day book burningHe notes that time is of the essence, however, as Facebook has been working quickly to integrate the three platforms, precisely in order to make splitting them up more difficult.

“Mark’s power is unprecedented and un-American. It is time to break up Facebook.”

Hughes also suggests the creation of a new government agency specifically to empower Congress to regulate tech companies and protect user privacy.

He says the agency should “create guidelines for acceptable speech on social media” while noting that the idea might seem “un-American” at first. The standards therefore should be “subject to the review of the courts” and would be similar to already accepted rules on speech like not shouting “fire” in a theater, provoking violence or making false statements to manipulate stock prices.

Ultimately, he says, an aggressive case taken now against Facebook would persuade other behemoths like Google and Amazon to “think twice” about stifling competition out of fear that “they could be next.”

Report: Facebook Sets Up ‘War Room’ for European Elections

Zuckerberg to face pressure on taxes in meeting with Macron

By Lucas Nolan

Politico recently profiled Facebook’s new “European election war room” ahead of upcoming E.U. elections.

A recent report from Politico provides an insight into Facebook’s new “election war room” established ahead of the upcoming European election. Facebook has previously deployed a similar “war room” in the United States ahead of the midterm elections in November 2018. In October, Breitbart News reported on the war room providing an insight into the aim of the project. Facebook’s Product Manager of Civic Engagement, Samidh Chakrabarti, said in an interview that the war room is a physical room which will be used to “take quick and decisive action” against possible cases of foreign interference during the midterm elections.

See the source image

“We have many measures that we’ve put in place to try to prevent problems: the political ad transparency, blocking fake accounts, combating foreign interference, and preventing the spread of misinformation. But we know we have to be ready for anything that happens,” stated Chakrabarti. “And so that’s why we’ve been building this war room, a physical war room [with] people across the company, of all different disciplines, who are there. So, as we discover problems that may come up in the hours leading up to the election, we can take quick and decisive action.”

Now, Politico has reported on the company’s efforts to establish a similar project in Dublin, Ireland ahead of the upcoming European elections. Politico described the project writing:

See the source image

The group of twentysomething coders, engineers and content specialists sit hunched over multiple screens, scanning the platform for potential illegal behavior. Wall-mounted television monitors keep them up to date on the latest chatter on the world’s largest social network, Instagram and WhatsApp. A single European Union flag hangs on the wall, next to a poster emblazoned with the slogan “New Ways of Seeing.”

Yet despite Facebook’s  40-person European election “operations center,” which got underway on April 29, the tech giant is struggling to keep on top of the threats.
Political groups from Hungary to Spain have been able to circumvent Facebook’s new political transparency tools to quietly buy partisan social media advertising aimed at swaying potential voters, according to an analysis by POLITICO. That includes paid-for messages by Viktor Orbán, the Hungarian prime minister, Verein Recht und Freiheit (Association for the Conservation of the Rule of Law and Civil Liberties), a support group for right-wing politicians in Germany and Petra De Sutter, a Belgian candidate for the Green Party.

It seems that Facebook is aware, however, of accusations of censorship and bias. The company’s chief lobbyist in Europe told Politico that Facebook is avoiding taking too harsh a line on the content allowed on the platform:

“We recognize that some people think we should remove everything,” said Richard Allan, Facebook’s chief lobbyist in Europe, in reference to the reams of political content now flooding the digital platform. “But we have concerns of removing everything during a political election.”

“We don’t believe it’s the right place to be for us to be the regulator of political campaigns,” he added. Facebook may not want the role, but its global reach puts it at the heart of the democratic process from France to the Philippines.

 

Politico described the new Dublin team tasked with monitoring misinformation, writing:

The team, which includes speakers of all of the EU’s 24 official languages, is split along national boundaries, with specialists — primarily men who would not look out of place in any startup office — monitoring activity on both Facebook’s social media platforms and those of rivals, notably Google and Twitter.

Facebook would not say how much content the group reviews daily, though each Facebook staffer had multiple screens open monitoring news events and other political discussions online.

Once an issue is flagged, Facebook’s engineers can then work with their counterparts across Europe and elsewhere to determine if the activity infringes the company’s standards, and then delete, play down or leave the content on the network, depending on the outcome. Topics for review include possible misinformation, voter suppression and hate speech, and the company said that it had investigated hundreds of incidents within the last week.

“Even though we’re a tech company, speaking face to face is invaluable,” said Sturdy, the Facebook executive.

Facebook, Google Pour Big Money into Lobbying Congress While Blacklisting Conservatives

CAP

By Sean Moran

Facebook and Google increasingly influence Congress as the social media giants censor conservative and alternative voices, dominate the Internet, and violate Americans’ privacy.

Facebook announced on Thursday that they have banned several conservative personalities such as Infowars host Alex Jones, Infowars contributor and YouTube personality Paul Joseph Watson, journalist and activist Laura Loomer, and Milo Yiannopoulus. The social media giant also banned Louis Farrakhan from its platforms.

Facebook said that they banned these personalities because they were “dangerous.”

Amid calls for greater regulation of social media companies’ potential anticompetitive behavior, censorship of conservative and alternative voices, and privacy violations, Facebook and Google have remained at the top of Open Secret’s database of top spenders lobbying Congress.

So far in 2019, Facebook spent $3,400,000 and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, $3,530,00 in lobbying Congress. Alphabet also ranked as the eighth total highest spender in lobbying in 2018, spending $21,740,000, while Facebook spent $12,620,000.

Facebook’s influence has continued to rise over the years. In the early years of President Barack Obama, Facebook spent below one million dollars in 2008 and 2009. From 2011 to 2018, Facebook’s lobbying spending skyrocketed and reached historic highs in 2018, when they spent $12.6 million.

In 2019, Facebook lobbied heavily on H.R. 1644, the Save the Internet Act, a Democrat bill which would restore the Obama-era Federal Communications Commission (FCC) net neutrality regulations, which arose as the result of Google’s heavy lobbying of the Obama administration. In 2019, Google also lobbied on the Save the Internet Act.

See the source image

In 2018, one of Facebook’s bills on which they lobbied Congress was H.R. 2520, the Browser Act, sponsored by then Rep. and now Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), which would require social media companies such as Facebook and Google to obtain explicit permission from users for collecting their private data. The Browser Act would also stipulate that these social media companies cannot deny services to users who do not opt-in to these companies’ collection of their private data. In 2017, the Browser Act was the most important issue on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Blackburn said that her legislation would establish one set of rules that would balance the relationship between ISPs and Facebook and Google. The legislation would also prevent the social media giants from unfairly profiting off of Americans’ private data without their explicit consent.

“We need one set of rules for the entire internet ecosystem with the FTC [Federal Trade Commission] as the cop on the beat,” said Senator Blackburn. “The FTC has the flexibility to keep up with changes in technology and its principal mission is consumer protection. The BROWSER Act will enable consumers to make more educated decisions regarding the nature of their relationship with tech companies.”

In contrast, Alphabet’s most prominent issues in Congress in 2019 and 2018 related to labor and antitrust, as well as telecommunications and technology.

Facebook and Google’s dominance on the Internet has become increasingly apparent as Google has approximately 90 percent of web search traffic, whereas in digital advertising, Google and Facebook amount to nearly two-thirds of American digital ad spending, with Amazon at a “distant third” at under nine percent.

In 2018, Google lobbied Congress fourteen separate times on multiple pieces of legislation that would have increased liability for companies that enabled sex trafficking.

Facebook and Google’s influence in Congress extends to its trade group, the Internet Association. In the fourth quarter of 2018, the Internet Association spent $840,000. In total, the social media giants spent $2.6 million in 2018 for lobbying. In 2019, the association has spent $690,000 so far. Over the last two years, the Internet Association has focused on the Save the Internet Act as well as on legislation that would increase edge providers’ liability for hosting content that enables sex trafficking.

Facebook and Google influence political elections as well. During the 2018 election cycle, Alphabet donated:

  1. $223,269 to former Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s (D-TX) Senate campaign to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), a prominent critic of Silicon Valley censorship.

  2. $149,741 to Rep. Jacky Rosen’s Senate campaign (D-NV) to unseat Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV).

  3. $135,625 to Rep. Josh Harder’s congressional campaign.

  4. $124,508 to former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s unsuccessful re-election campaign.

  5. $97, 364 to former Sen. Claire McCaskill’s failed re-election campaign.

During the 2018 midterm elections, Facebook donated:

  1. $75,005 to O’Rourke’s Senate campaign.

  2. $37,954 to Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) 2017 special Senate election against former Alabama judge Roy Moore.

  3. $34,534 to Heitkamp’s Senate election.

  4. $31,326 to McCaskill’s Senate campaign.

  5. $29,387 to Rosen’s successful campaign to unseat Heller.

As Facebook and Google and other social media giants continue to increasingly censor and blacklist conservative and alternative voices, more and more conservative voices have called for addressing the social media giants’ dominance of the Internet. Facebook and Google’s influence in Congress also relates to political confrontations; during a hearing in December 2018, the then-ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee delivered a sharp rebuke of Republican accusations of Google’s political bias affecting its search engines, even though Google was his top donor.

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in April, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said  he envisions three potential remedies for big tech’s violation of free speech and dominance on the Internet.

Cruz’s three solutions include:

  1. Amending Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act
  2. Antitrust measures to address big tech’s dominant status on the Internet.
  3. Addressing potential cases of fraud and deception.

“No one wants to see the federal government regulating what is allowed to be said, but there are at least three potential remedies that can be considered by Congress or the administration or both,” Cruz said.

See the source image

Snoop Dogg Encourages Everyone to Post Louis Farrakhan Footage on Facebook and Instagram

Credit: Daniel Boczarski / Stringer Editorial #: 467066492 Collection: Getty Images Entertainment Date created: March 20, 2015

By Jerome Hudson

Rapper and game show host Snoop Dogg took to Instagram late Thursday and urged his 31 million followers to post and share videos of Louis Farrakhan to Facebook and Instagram. The antisemitic Nation of Islam leader was banned from both platforms for what the social media giant said was Farrahkahn’s decision to “promote or engage in violence and hate.”

“If you’re down with it like I’m down with it, post your favorite Mr. Farrakhan videos on your Instagram and Facebook page,” Snoop Dogg said in an Instagram video posted Thursday. “Show some love to a real brother.”

***Graphic Langauge***

Breitbart TV

View this post on Instagram

P. S. A. 👊🏿🎥

A post shared by snoopdogg (@snoopdogg) on

“How the fuck y’all gonna ban Minister Louis Farrakhan for putting the truth out there?” Snoop asked in a separate video. “I stand with him. I’m with him. Ban me, motherfucker.”

Snoop Dogg encouraging his followers to post videos of Farrakahn on Facebook and Instagram appears to be in clear violation of the platform’s rules, which do not allow the promotion of “hate speech […] because it creates an environment of intimidation and exclusion and in some cases may promote real-world violence.”

As recently as October Farrakhan posted a video to Twitter in which he called Jews “termites.” Twitter removed Farrakhan’s “verified” blue checkmark for hate speech.

Facebook and Instagram’s purge of conservative personalities also included Infowars host Alex Jones, Infowars contributor Paul Joseph Watson, and journalist and activist Laura Loomer.

CNBC COMPLAINING FACEBOOK NOT DELETING INFOWARS ACCOUNTS FAST ENOUGH

CNBC Complaining Facebook Not Deleting Infowars Accounts Fast Enough

Compares removing accounts to a game of whack-a-mole

Daniel Taylor | Old-Thinker News – MAY 3, 2019

While anti-establishment voices are silenced, technological advancements are being made that will bring “fake news” to a whole new level. Who will remain to challenge it?

CNBC lamented shortly after Facebook announced its ban of Infowars that Facebook cannot completely clamp down on accounts, essentially playing “whack-a-mole.” CNBC reported:

It’s yet another sign that while huge companies such as Facebook and YouTube have to fight to keep content under control, it’s tough for both to monitor and remove accounts and content that can pop right back up with new pages. It’s like a big game of whack-a-mole.

Censorship is ramping up around the world as mainstream news outlets rally for “regulations” on the first amendment.

While anti-establishment voices are silenced, technological advancements are being made that will bring “fake news” to a whole new level.

Artificial Intelligence systems are currently being developed that will “deep fake” news articles, just as photos and videos have been infamously faked.

In a little-noticed story in July of 2017, it was revealed that a Google grant of €706,000 was given to the United Kingdom’s Press Association to use artificial intelligence to write news articles.

The A.I. system, called RADAR (Reporters And Data And Robots), comes from Google’s Digital News Initiative.

As reported by the Guardian, RADAR will “…auto-generate graphics, video and pictures to add to stories.”

 

BRENNAN REFERS TO TRUMP’S CHARGE OF DEEP STATE COUP AS ‘SOCIOPATHIC RAMBLINGS’

Brennan Refers To Trump's Charge of Deep State Coup As 'Sociopathic Ramblings'

Obama-era CIA head runs interference on Trump’s bombshell claims

Infowars.com – APRIL 27, 2019

Former CIA Director John Brennan says that President Trump’s accusations of a Deep State coup attempt against him are nothing more than “sociopathic ramblings.”

“I don’t think it’s surprising at all that we continue to hear the sociopathic ramblings of Mr. Trump claiming that there was this effort to try to prevent him from being elected or to unseat him,” Brennan said on MSNBC Friday.

“I welcome any type of, you know, continued investigation in terms of what we did during that period of time when we were in government.”

“And I’ve testified in front of Congress, and I’d be happy to do it again,” he added.

Trump went scorched-earth during his wide-ranging Thursday interview on Hannity, accusing former President Obama of knowingly facilitating illegal spying and the media for perpetuating the fake Russia collusion narrative.

“So, I really say, now we have to get down because this was a coup. This was an attempted overthrow of the United States government,” Trump said.

“This was a coup. This wasn’t stealing information from an office in the Watergate apartments. This was an attempted coup. Like a Third World country. Inconceivable.”

TWITTER SHADOW BANS MICHAEL SAVAGE FOR QUESTIONING NOTRE DAME FIRE NARRATIVE

Twitter Shadow Bans Michael Savage For Questioning Notre Dame Fire Narrative

Conservative host “may join the rebels in the shadows”.

Steve Watson | Infowars.com – APRIL 25, 2019

Michael Savage believes that Islamist terrorists may have been behind the Notre Dame blaze, and he is being vocal about it. In response, Twitter has reportedly moved to shadow ban Savage to stop his opinion spreading.

Savage’s reasoning is that terrorists attempted to set the cathedral on fire as recently as 2016, in addition to the fact that hundreds of churches in France have been desecrated over the past year.

Screen Shot 2019-04-25 at 10.53.35 AM

Savage found that after he expressed that opinion, Twitter stopped a lot of other users from seeing his posts.

“It became apparent Sunday after being temporarily blocked last week following the burning of Notre Dame, that now he may join the rebels in the shadows,” wrote Amanda Metzger, who works for Savage on his website.

“Some followers who used to receive notifications of his tweets on their smartphones no longer received them,” she added.

Metzger also noted that Savage “suddenly found his Periscope live broadcast was limited in the number of viewers.” (Periscope is owned by Twitter).

Infowars’ Alex Jones is still permanently banned from Twitter. No explanation was ever given, other than the vague suggestion that Jones ‘violated’ T&C’s.

It appears Savage now finds himself in the Twitter sin bin along with Jones and many others.

“Who is in the shadows deciding who is heard and who is silenced? Someone in a dark room behind a bright screen in a foreign country with no First Amendment?” Metzger asked, adding “maybe it’s an American trying to create a safe space online.”

“I can’t think of anything less safe – anything more damaging – than limiting the exchange of ideas,” she continued. “We’re in a dangerous place when we’ve forgotten the phrase, ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’”

“We are getting closer to the point where federal regulation of social media is inevitable. The airwaves are regulated. In this case, my plea is that there is some transparency in who is banned, blocked or deplatformed and why,” Metzger urged, adding “I would prefer no one find themselves silenced by another.”

“Maybe you don’t care who was deplatformed last year. You didn’t agree with them anyway and seeing their tweets and posts ruined your day,” Metzger concluded. “But if you don’t stand up for them now, they won’t have a voice to come to your defense when you are silenced.”

In related news, it appears that Twitter is planning to allow users to report tweets that they believe are an attempt to ‘mislead’ people at election time.

What could go wrong there?

In a blog post regarding the change, Twitter declared that “Any attempts to undermine the process of registering to vote or engaging in the electoral process is contrary to our company’s core values.”

The move appears to be an effort on behalf of Twitter to adhere to the EU ‘Code of Practice against disinformation’ which Facebook and Google have also signed up to.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑