Monday May 16, 2016

Why it matters that Facebook decides what 1.5 billion see every day

Facebook is the most powerful media organization today -  but it doesn't see itself as one.

Facebook is the most powerful media organization today - but it doesn't see itself as one. (Dado Ruvic/Reuters)

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Facebook is now considered the biggest news distributor on the planet with an ever-expanding influence. Allegations the social media network suppresses topics of interest to conservatives have created a firestorm.

On May 9, technology blog Gizmodo published accounts from anonymous former curators at Facebook who said the website suppressed conservative news, while boosting others.

Facebook as News quoteboard

Facebook denied the allegations. CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a response on Facebook saying, "Facebook stands for giving everyone a voice," and that he will invite "leading conservatives and people from across the political spectrum"' to talk with him.

This statement has done little to calm critics. A U.S. senator has asked Mark Zuckerberg to appear before Congress to answer questions about how Facebook develops trending topics.

Facebook is used worldwide every day by one billion people — for many the social media network is their main source of news.

Facebook as news quote 2

According to a Pew Research Center for Media and Journalism study, 60 per cent of millennials surveyed get their political news from Facebook.

As part of The Current's occasional series, Eye On The Media, our panel explores Facebook's role and responsibility in delivering the news.

Guests in this segment:

  • Zeynep Tufekci, assistant professor of information and library science at the University of North Carolina. 
  • Issie Lapowsky, staff writer at WIRED magazine. 
  • Navneet Alang, technology and culture writer. 

This segment was produced by The Current's Pacinthe Mattar.