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In a keynote speech at the site’s annual developer conference, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a new plan for addressing the scourge of fake news on the site, and it has left leading conservative sites again screaming censorship at the tech giant.
Zuckerberg said that going forward Facebook would rank sites based on trustworthiness, based on consumer data they collected which shows how much users trust various news outlets, according to BuzzFeed.
“We put [that data] into the system, and it is acting as a boost or a suppression, and we’re going to dial up the intensity of that over time,” Zuckerberg told reporters after his speech. “We feel like we have a responsibility to further [break] down polarization and find common ground.”
While that move to rank sites by trustworthiness is theoretically divorced from any political affiliations, leading conservative sites saw it as another massive step taken by Facebook to censor them.
In a post on the Gateway Pundit, the decision was pegged to the upcoming 2018 election, with the site declaring that the “final remaining conservative voices on Facebook will be eliminated by Election Day.”
Citing BuzzFeed’s post, the article declared that “There should be no doubt left. Facebook is determined to shut out conservative pro-Trump voices.”
The site took issue with Zuckerberg stating that Facebook will invest in human moderators and artificial intelligence to keep “fake news and deliberate propaganda at bay, especially in elections.”
Facebook censorship has been a leading cause of the Gateway Pundit, which has seen traffic plummet since becoming an extremely popular page in the run-up to the 2016 election.
The site has been known to peddle conspiracy theories—especially in the wake of mass shootings—and after the election, a Facebook algorithm change caused the site’s traffic plummet. While the site has claimed it’s being censored, Facebook traffic has been greatly reduced for news sites across the spectrum in the past year.
The Daily Caller took issue with Zuckerberg’s phrasing, noting that dialing up suppression sounds like censorship, especially since Facebook refused to publicize its list of “trusted” news sources.
Leading conservatives on Twitter echoed the claims of conservative censorship.
We still haven’t heard back from @facebook why they labeled my podcast content “spam.” They’re not even hiding their anti-conservative agenda anymore.— Dan Bongino (@dbongino) May 2, 2018
Facebook jumps further into censorship, especially political censorship. What could possibly go wrong? https://t.co/2N6Vmuh3cI— DwaynePhillips (@DwaynePhillips) May 2, 2018
This is why right-leaning pages have lost tons of Facebook engagement in the last couple of months.— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) May 2, 2018
Blatant censorship disguised as quality control.https://t.co/Ox1Tr4GEmK
Liberal Tech Overlord Zuckerberg Proclaims Facebook Has Begun To Rank News Organizations By Trust https://t.co/Q0ywSqM3j6— Thomas Paine (@Thomas1774Paine) May 2, 2018
The matter of conservative censorship on Facebook exploded onto the national scene last month when Zuckerberg was pressed on Facebook’s political leanings when he testified before Congress.
David Covucci is the Layer 8 editor at the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the web. His work has appeared in Vice, the Huffington Post, Jezebel, Gothamist, and other publications. He is particularly interested in hearing any tips you have. Reach out at [email protected]