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TechnologyFacebook's News Tab curators told not to censor news about the company

13:51  11 september  2019
13:51  11 september  2019 Source:   engadget.com

Facebook to name first oversight panel members by year-end

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Curators of the social media company ’ s ‘trending news ’ sidebar purposely leave out stories from rightwing sites, a former employee has alleged.

The company will allow news stories calling out Facebook ' s repeated ethical and technical failings to appear in the news tab section. In other words, Facebook is explicitly telling its news curators not to censor stories critical of their employer. It's not clear if any such direction was given to the

Facebook confirmed in August that it's using a small team of journalists to pick the top stories for its upcoming News Tab section. Now, The Information has revealed more details about the guidelines those editors have to follow. The publication says Facebook sent employees an internal memo containing its guidelines for curators, including prioritizing pieces with on-the-record sources over those with anonymous ones.

Facebook's News Tab curators told not to censor news about the company

The team will prioritize the media outlets that report a particular news story first, and it'll also give the highest priority to local outlets for local news. However, members can't highlight anything until two publications have published pieces on the same story if it's based on an "unsubstantiated report." They're also instructed not to feature stories meant to "provoke, divide and polarize" unless they're "fact-based stories that rely upon journalistic standards."

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Facebook is not censoring the news and trends it shows users on the site's trending section, Facebook says. That declaration comes on the heels of a Gizmodo story from Monday morning reporting that Facebook ' s human curators censor conservative news stories from appearing in the

A Facebook spokesperson tells CBS News it takes these allegations of bias "very seriously," but the company insists "we have found no evidence that Former employees say they were instructed not to include news about Facebook into the trending section even when Facebook itself was trending

While no piece that uses a headline with profanities and obscenities will be featured, Facebook aims to show a "diversity of voices" by featuring a range of topics and publishers. The social network reportedly also clarified in the memo that it will instruct the curators not to censor bad news about the company itself and to "impartially share stories about Facebook, Facebook executives and tech at large."

Whether using journalists is better than using algorithms to keep the News Tab's top stories updated remains to be seen. Facebook had been accused of showing political bias -- which makes the use of human curators a cause for concern for some -- and having a faulty algorithm in the past. You might be able to decide for yourself soon enough: the company is reportedly scheduled to roll the feature out in October.

The Information

Facebook helps you control data shared from apps and websites.
Facebook has been particularly busy improving its approach to data, and that now includes how it handles data coming from elsewhere. The company has introduced an Off-Facebook Activity tool that helps you manage the data apps and sites send to the site. You can see just who's sending data to Facebook and disconnect both current and future info from your account. If you don't like that your shopping habits in an app lead to endless targeted ads, these controls could depersonalize your ads in a heartbeat. The internet giant believes this tool "could have some impact" on its ad business, but felt that it was "more important" to provide control over data.

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