According to an article titled, “Former Facebook Workers: We Routinely Suppressed Conservative News,” by Michael Nunez in Gizmodo.com, it is the policy of Facebook to prevent news articles that were regarded by curators as being of interest to conservative readers from appearing in the trending section. Former employees of the social media company say they were told not to include such stories, even if they were popular, and also to keep out reports about Facebook. In addition, workers were ordered to add in other stories that didn’t meet the trending algorithm. This all is in spite of claims by the company that trending topics are only offered due to actual popularity.
This is reminiscent of Twitter’s efforts to control content, filtering out tweets regarded as abusive. It’s also in keeping with the decision to ban private sales of guns on Facebook. And actions like these are a reminder to all of us of the reality of modern intellectual life.
For one thing, news isn’t conservative, liberal, or any other political persuasion. News is simply news. But the presentation of the news is often done from a perspective, and this is the reason that getting news from a single source or from a single point of view is a bad idea. It’s easy to listen only to sources that we agree with. This is known as confirmation bias. This is the equivalent of inbreeding in genetics. The viability of an argument over public policy, like the viability of offspring, is shown by how well it functions in competition. We’re blessed in this age of information technology with the chance to obtain information in quantities and ranges far above what our ancestors ever had available to them, and it’s our job to seek out that information and to test our ideas with it.
Consider an analogy with the case we gun owners make regarding the exercise of gun rights. We’ve chosen to take an active role in matters of getting food and defending our own lives. These decisions are rights, but they also involve the assumption of responsibility for what happens to us.
As I said above, accepting the duty to find information requires us to look at a variety of sources. But that’s only the beginning. Who is the source? What are the source’s qualifications? Who pays the source, and what is the source trying to achieve?
It’s no surprise to say that many media organizations have biases and failings when it comes to firearms. The broader question about bias—whether left or right, establishment or progressive, and so forth—is one we have to be aware of and on guard against—in all directions. It’s not enough to assume that the media is entirely on the left of the political spectrum. Facebook has shown a pattern in the stories it will include in news trends, but that’s not the only possible skewing. If the guests on news programs are all politicians and government officials long in office, left vs. right isn’t as important as establishment vs. ordinary citizens.
Is this hard work? Yes. So in many ways is learning to use firearms in a safe and effective manner. But the rewards in each case make the effort worthwhile. Among other reasons, we make ourselves better able to respond to attacks, be they on our physical security or on the integrity of our ideas.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.