Facebook issued a report regarding right-wing cries of bias on the platform. Notably, the report includes no actual data supporting those claims. Nor does the Wall Street Journal op-ed penned by former Sen. Jon Kyl.
That’s because such data doesn’t exist.
Media Matters’ Natalie Martinez has done multiple studies of hundreds of Facebook pages, with data going back to 2018. At every point, left-wing and right-wing pages had similar interaction rates. No data shows conservative censorship.
Martinez and Madelyn Webb also looked deeper at abortion-related content on Facebook, finding that it is dominated by right-wing sources:
A similar effect was found regarding the Central American migrant caravan.
Yet conservatives have spent the Trump years complaining about censorship in a transparent attempt to get more favorable treatment from the tech companies -- in the same way that they gamed the mainstream media. It’s no surprise that Facebook let Trump’s campaign run over 2,000 ads referring to immigration as an “invasion.”
Facebook’s advertising policies are supposed to prevent exactly this sort of ad. But the Trump campaign and other Republicans got away with it -- and news outlets picked up on the trend only after the El Paso shooter used similar rhetoric.
Through all of this, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has taken a blasé approach to addressing problems of misinformation, choosing repeatedly to give in to right-wing pressure campaigns. That’s one reason Zuckerberg was Media Matters’ 2017 Misinformer Of The Year. Facebook even appointed lobbyist, Trump ally, and erstwhile Senator Jon Kyl to run the bias report.
As Media Matters President Angelo Carusone said, “Facebook’s impulse to appease right-wing cries of bias, despite all evidence to the contrary, is yet again putting Facebook in a position where it'll be amplifying lies and enabling extremists, white supremacists, and Proud Boys at the expense of American democracy and with great risk to our safety.”
In the Trump era, we all know exactly where the road of appeasing bad-faith right-wing pressure campaigns goes, and it’s nowhere good.
This post has been updated for clarity.