Show an ad over header. AMP

I am the FIRST

Facebook can't appease either political party ahead of the election

Efforts by Facebook to appear politically neutral are growing complicated as critics on the left allege the company is over-pandering to conservatives and critics on the right allege the tech giant is biased against them.

Why it matters: Because of the enormous role Facebook plays in political campaigns, it risks being blamed for the outcome of the presidential election — regardless of who wins.

Driving the news: Facebook on Wednesday said it had taken action on thousands of QAnon accounts, posts, groups and ads on Facebook and Instagram as a part of updating policies around dangerous individuals and organizations.

  • Facebook said it will restrict the spread of QAnon content, but it will still let people post in support of the movement if they're not violating Facebook's other polices.
  • The policy is aimed at curbing organizations and movements "that have demonstrated significant risks to public safety" but do not meet the criteria to be banned from Facebook altogether.
  • The QAnon conspiracy has shifted from a fringe conspiracy theory into a sprawling network of falsehoods tacitly and sometimes explicitly endorsed by high-level officials.
  • President Trump said during a Wednesday press briefing that QAnon supporters "like me very much" and "love America."

Between the lines: The move comes amid a growing body of stories and research suggesting the tech giant gives conservative groups a wide berth to skirt its rules in an attempt to defuse unproven claims from right-wing politicians and media figures that it's biased against them.

  • Facebook scaled back its voter registration kickoff following complaints from the Trump campaign, the Tech Transparency Project said Wednesday, citing company emails to state officials obtained by the group. CEO Mark Zuckerberg in June said Facebook wanted to help 4 million people register to vote.
  • Facebook fired an employee who had collected evidence of right-wing pages getting preferential treatment, BuzzFeed News reported earlier this month.
  • NBC News separately reported, citing anonymous Facebook employees, that Facebook let conservative outlets and personalities spread false information without penalty.

Yes, but: Conservatives don't feel pandered to. Republicans used their time during the blockbuster hearing with Big Tech CEOs last month to accuse their companies of political bias against conservatives.

What they're saying: "While many Republicans think we should do one thing, many Democrats think we should do the exact opposite," a Facebook spokesperson said. "Our job is to create one consistent set of rules that applies equally to everyone."

  • "You can never win," a longtime tech industry Republican told Axios. "Oftentimes, if people are mad on both sides of the aisle, it means you're doing something right."

The other side: "I think Facebook peddles this narrative in which the fact that ‘both sides’ are always yelling at them proves they’re appropriately neutral," Jesse Lehrich, a Democratic strategist and co-founder of Accountable Tech, told Axios. "But the two sides are often asymmetrical. And when it comes to truth, or hate, or democracy, being neutral is nothing to be proud of."

The big picture: Most Americans say it's at least somewhat likely that social media platforms intentionally censor political viewpoints that they find objectionable, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

  • The survey indicates that the right has succeeded in turning its censorship claims into a mainstream belief.

Go deeper: Most Americans think social media platforms censor political viewpoints

Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

Keep reading... Show less

Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

Keep reading... Show less

Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

Keep reading... Show less

Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

Keep reading... Show less

"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

Keep reading... Show less

What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

Keep reading... Show less



Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories