Trendspotting

IMAGE CREDIT: FACEBOOK

By Bill Maher

The Supreme Court is down a man – Antonin Scalia has gone to his reward, which is an eternity with David Bowie and Prince – but the Senate is too busy to hold hearings to replace him. You know, like it says in the Constitution they love. They do, however, have time to investigate liberal bias at Facebook. Which sounds like big government interfering with the job creators, but what do I know? I get my news from Grindr. 

The “scandal” is that the “trending news” box in the corner of your Facebook page has been “suppressing” conservative news. Which is why liberals don’t know America’s biggest problem is where Caitlyn Jenner shits. 

The front page of the New York Post screamed: “You Won’t Read This On Facebook.” Scott Walker tweeted: “How many of you are ticked off about reports that Facebook censored conservative thoughts?” (Calm down, Droopy.) Drudge put up a picture of Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, captioned “Not Leaning In . . . Leaning Left.” Glenn Beck posted “This is why no one trusts Journalists!” (My heavens!) And South Dakota’s John Thune, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, wants Mark Zuckerberg to come answer a few questions… and bring money. He wrote him a letter, saying:

“Facebook must answer these serious allegations and hold those responsible to account if there has been political bias in the dissemination of trending news. Any attempt by a neutral and inclusive social media platform to censor or manipulate political discussion is an abuse of trust and inconsistent with the values of an open Internet.”

You can see his point. How can Facebook call itself “neutral and inclusive” if it’s really liberal? That would be like Fox News calling itself “fair and balanced.”

Here are some of the questions Senator Thune (speaking for the people of South Dakota, home of the three counties with the highest poverty rate in America) needs answered:

Have Facebook news curators in fact manipulated the content of the Trending Topics section, either by targeting news stories related to conservative views for exclusion or by injecting non-trending content?
                                          
What steps is Facebook taking to investigate claims of politically motivated manipulation of news stories… what steps will Facebook take to hold the responsible individuals accountable?

“Hold them accountable?” What does that mean? Zuckerberg can’t kill them, can he? Is Zuckerberg allowed to kill people yet?  

Thune wants Facebook’s records for the last two years and he’d like: 

… the requested information as soon as possible, but no later than May 26, 2016. In addition, please arrange for your staff, including employees responsible for Trending Topics to brief Committee staff on this issue. 

Because this is the United States Senate. There’s no time to waste. Speaking of “trending news,” 18 percent of South Dakota’s children live in poverty

Zuckerberg decided to play nice. Last week he met with over a dozen conservative leaders at Facebook’s headquarters to discuss the issue, and this week the company announced big changes to their trending feature.

Too bad. It would be fun to watch him go Social Network on a Senate Committee. “I’m sorry, Senator, I couldn’t hear your question over my money.” 

I think the “curators” at Facebook probably put more stories up from The New York Times than they do from Sarah Palin’s twitter feed. Is that bias?  Let’s say they wanted to be completely balanced. What’s the opposite of the truth? 

Human beings are biased. Facebook says humans don’t select the news, they just “audit” it, but we’re all jerking each other off here, right? Which is ironic, because there are so many better places for that on the internet. 

Here’s the difference between Edmund Burke, the father of conservatism, and modern American “conservatives” – Edmund Burke wasn’t a whiny little bitch. And isn’t there something… iffy… about the Senate wanting to ask you about your political views? Wasn’t it bad last time we did that?

By the way, Facebook has always admitted that they manipulate the Trending Topics. It’s not just a computer watching you and your friends.  (Like that would be better.) The small print has always read:

Trending shows you topics that have recently become popular on Facebook. The topics you see are based on a number of factors including engagement, timeliness, Pages you’ve liked and your location. 

A number of factors. That covers a lot of ground. Wendy’s chili contains a number of ingredients.