How should Facebook determine which news stories we see?

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In case you missed it, Gizmodo reported last Monday that Facebook is actively and methodically suppressing conservative news stories, and has been doing so for a while. Even if these allegations are false, it’s well within Facebook’s power to do such a thing without anyone knowing, which is a frightening thought when you consider the fact that most Americans get the majority of their news through Facebook and Google these days. However, as Morning Consult found in a recent poll, not everyone thinks this is something to be concerned about.

Nearly half of Americans in our most recent national poll have heard about Facebook allegedly suppressing conservative news stories on their platform. Where did most people under the age of 45 find out about the story? On Facebook, of course. A quarter of respondents under age 45 said they read about Facebook possibly quashing conservative news on Facebook itself, a fact that underscores just how present the social media behemoth is in Americans’ daily lives. A deeper dive into voters’ opinions shows why this story may have struck a chord: When it comes to the news, readers want their interests to come first and editors’ judgement to come second. And that fact applies to traditional media outlets as well as social media platforms. Thirty-one percent of registered voters said “reader interest” should determine what news stories show up on social media platforms, versus 11 percent who say editors should pick what’s visible to users. The numbers break down similarly when it comes to what respondents want from traditional media outlets. Only slightly more registered voters, 15 percent, think editors should pick what gets covered at traditional media outlets. Twenty-six percent think reader interest should be the top driver of news at traditional media outlets.

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