Is Facebook bias against conservatives? New Audit report reveals the reality behind

From almost a year, Facebook has been working on conservative bias audit, and now it will soon be releasing its findings. With this, the platform will also be announcing new advertising policies that have been designed after the audit report.

Facebook is bringing a little change to its existing advertising policies, as allowing the display of medical tubes attached to the human body. Now the pro-life ads in which Facebook ads will easily accept survival stories of pre-mature babies, cancer researches, and humanitarian relief.

However, Facebook will not display any ad showing bruises, blood, or any pain or distress.

Facebook is considered to be little biased against conservatives, and it appears after the release of an audit that the company is serious about these allegations.

Nick Clegg, Facebook VP of Global Affairs and Communications, said the company could have made policies that might have pleased every stakeholder but as these policies are affecting billions of posts, therefore they had to take strict measures. The primary purpose is to ensure that there are no intentional or unintentional biases.

Sen. Jon Kyl and his team at Covington and Burling, a law firm, conducted this audit in which around 133 conservative lawmakers and groups were interviewed. In August 2018, these findings were shared with Facebook, and again in May 2019, the follow-up interviews were done.

According to Kyl, Facebook had given him and his team total freedom to conduct independent audit featuring several conservative lawmakers and groups. Facebook made specific changes in recent times like content oversight board was created. These changes were talked about in the initial findings.

Last year Kyl went to fill for the Sen. John McCain’s vacant seat, and in his absence of almost four months, his team worked on audit, Said Facebook.

The concerns of conservatives expressed in interviews can be divided into six categories:

1. According to them, Facebook’s algorithm started deprioritizing their point of views after the News Feed Algorithm shift and updates aimed at decreasing clickbait and spam, in January 2018. Kyl noted that the affiliation of fact-checkers with conservative publishers was accepted by Facebook.

2. Conservatives had reservations regarding the community standards considering it as hate speech. Content policies seemed to affect religious groups. Kyl noticed the content policy update of Facebook became more evident after the insight of content policy process was provided.

3. Interviewees thought guidelines and employers responsible for their implementation were bias against the conservatives. Kyl noted that Facebook had allowed the public to challenge the content ruling by introducing the content appeal process.

4. Educational and advocacy ads were labeled by Facebook in archives as political which worried several non-profit groups about their IRS tax-exempt status. Facebook then name of ad archives to show that all archived ads are not political.

5. Conservatives were concerned that the content of their ads is removed more frequently than of liberals. They wanted to know the time-frame after which Facebook approves ad buys as some of the political campaigns ads have little time at their hands. Kyl identifies the appeal process as the solution to it.

6. The main concern of conservatives’ raised from their belief that the content polices and employees implementing them are bias against the conservatives. Thus, according to Kyl, the new content oversight will have people of various viewpoints. Also, Facebook now has dedicated staffers that will work with right-of-center organizations and leaders.

According to Clegg, it is only a first step and Kyl, and his team will share another report in the coming few months.

Photo: AP /Jeny Kane

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