Social Media Ethics: Speaking Of “Rigged” Elections….


Can someone give me a benign explanation for this?

From Zero Hedge:

“Does anyone else find it odd that ‘FBI Emails’ does not appear to be a hot topic, trending, big deal on any social media?”

Facebook… “Trending”…


Twitter…”Top Moments”


And others.

Yes, I know: these are all private companies, and they can publish of not publish whatever they choose. So can the news media. Nonetheless, it’s wrong.  It is an effort to manipulate what people learn about, and it is dishonest. Stating or implying that these are the major news stories while omitting the most important news development of the day because it may work to the disadvantage of your favorite party of candidate is mass deecption. It means, among other things, that no one using that social media platform can or should ever trust what is designated a “trending” or a “hot story.”

I just checked Facebook and Twitter. “James Comey” just snuck into 9th place on the list on Facebook. (“James Comey” is not “Clinton’s e-mails,” which is the real story). It’s behind Milbury, Mass,. James Hamm and Henry Winkler, among others. Nothing about Comey or the e-mails on the Twitter trends.

This isn’t just good old fashioned politicking. This is abuse of power and influence.

Unless it’s all a big misunderstanding, of course…

27 thoughts on “Social Media Ethics: Speaking Of “Rigged” Elections….

  1. What?

    Are you suggesting that Twitter et al are manipulating ‘trending stories?’ Or are you suggesting that Zero Hedge is selectively quoting?

    Either way, these lists are run by algorithms, not conspiracy theorists secretly meeting in Silicon Valley; they vary minute by minute. There is no virtual secret cabal behind the scenes “manipulating” it.

    What’s REALLY going on in the reality-based world is as follows: choose your preferred description.

    1. In the real world of social media, frankly no one gives a damn about “FBI emails”
    2. The hundreds of millions of people on social media are all hornswoggled, brainwashed and overwhelmingly democrat-socialist-commie-pinko leaning.

    Either way you cut it, once again: if given a choice between conspiracy theories and plain old ugly reality, go with reality 95% of the time.

    • It wasn’t selectively quoting, Charles. They took the whole screen shots. Twitter has been cancelling conservative commentator accounts using standards not applied to progressive accounts. Mark Zuckerberg had to fight off staff recommendations that Donald Trump’s Facebook comments should be blocked because they were “offensive.” If you are going to pretend to have “trending stories” they should be the trending stories.

      It’s not a conspiracy theory, and no, “its just an algorythm” is not an explanation. Right now, social media is a political tool, and you can’t seriously argue that there is no way these platforms would be engaged in selective censorship.

    • Summation: So your argument that it’s just a coincidence that the #1 story, by miles, never is recognized as such on any of the major social media platforms. Is that essentially a fair assessment?

      Wow, all that sophisticated software and programming, and all the algorithms miss it. OK.

    • Facebook has been known to manually edit their trending module in the past.

      For that matter, the way the process seems to work is that the algorithm suggests stories to a team of humans who can than accept or reject it because the algorithm can’t tell clickbaity b.s. from actual news stories. It’s not exactly a fully automated, no human input type process.

    • Are you suggesting that Twitter et al are manipulating ‘trending stories?’

      Absolutely. Look; #tweetyourselfin3words is rending on Twitter right now with just over 5000 daily tweets. #draintheswamp has about 4 times that (Probably half of which comes from @RealdonaldTrump) but is not listed as trending. There’s no question THAT it happens, but some people think it’s wrong TO happen.

      • You seem to be explicitly assuming that the definition of “trending” is based on daily volume. Do you know that for a fact? I do not know it, but I would strongly suspect they use a much shorter timeframe. If so, then your data are irrelevant.

        • Do you actually know anything about the subject, or is your progressive radar on and you feel it’s your sworn duty to cast doubt on this, despite your ignorance? Because it would take one HELL of an echo chamber for someone to be versed in the discussion around the tailoring of social media comments not to know this. Facebook and Twitter at the very least don’t even make bones about it. They admit it. It’s beyond disingenuous to try to say they aren’t doing something they freely admit to.

          “Facebook’s trending section is run largely like a newsroom and curators can “inject” and “blacklist” topics.”

          But here’s Charles f’n Green going to tell me my numbers are bad. How about you get off your rocker and do a Google search?

  2. Sorry, but I tend to agree with Charles to this extent: people don’t use social media to talk about issues of any kind, really. My limited experience with Facebook is that it is primarily a place to brag — photos of great vacations, new cars, terrific kids, how great one looks, etc. — or to tell ‘friends’ the boring minutiae of one’s life — “Boss made me stay late. Grr.” or “Sushi tonight. Yum!”

    It is disheartening, but not a conspiracy, at least as far as I can tell with Facebook. When people care about issues, they’ll talk about it. (I have in fact seen Facebook posts that actually complain about those people who insist on putting politics into the mix. ‘De-friend them’ was one response.)

    I don’t know about Twitter, so will leave that to someone else. but the bottom line for me is that people simply don’t want their neat little thought-packages ruined by ideas or facts. And that, I think, is actually a fact.

    • “Sorry, but I tend to agree with Charles to this extent: people don’t use social media to talk about issues of any kind, really.”

      This is the statement of someone who can’t possibly be familiar with social media.

      • And the people who frequent MY Facebook page seem to love politics. If I didn’t hide half the political memes on my page, I’d never want to go there.

        BTW, taken directly from my Facebook page trending results:

        American Bison
        83K people talking about this
        Henry Winkler
        4.1K people talking about this
        Kylie Jenner and Tyga
        120K people talking about this
        Strictly Come Dancing
        140K people talking about this
        Angelina Jolie
        130K people talking about this
        Melanesian DNA
        10K people talking about this
        1M people talking about this
        Home Free
        16K people talking about this
        2 Investigators
        9K people talking about this
        Millbury, Massachusetts
        7.2K people talking about this

        • Funny, the people who populate MY facebook page rarely talk about politics – I’m guessing because I generally try to avoid putting people on my Facebook page who use Facebook to talk politics.

  3. While I’m loathe to consider even screenshots from Zero Hedge reliable (they likely think “globalists” aka Jewish bankers are responsible for the manipulation) I do find it strange that FBI emails aren’t a trending topic, and I wouldn’t put it past any of the social media giants to manipulate them this way. Wasn’t there a news story a few months ago about Facebook doing just that?

    • A problem I face often when a site I don’t trust or consider biased makes an interesting point. Sometimes bias makes people see things that are really there. It’s tough, especially in an environment that where neutral, objective sites are so rare. Also neutral, open-minded, objective readers—thanks for being one.

  4. Jack: while you’ll likely bristle at the use of the word “rigged”, check out this short video regarding Google’s auto-complete when asking “how can you vote…”. Just an algorithm? Who knows, but it sure looks bad.

    Bonus: to further erode your faith in Google’s “algorithms” do a search for “American Inventors”.

    • I saw that. Also that Google’s autocomplete gives you “Hillary Clinton CRIED” as its first alternative when one types “Hillary Clinton CRI” seeking “crimes” or “criminal.” Google denies any political motive…but their algorithm is awfully kind. Who would ever type “Hillary Clinton cried”???

      • I think you and Jack are guilty of anthropomorphizing algorithms.

        You seem to see something sinister in an auto-complete for “Hillary Clinton CRI[ed] rather than CRI[me].

        What would you make of Donald Trump CRI __ ?

        Here’s what comes up:
        Donald Trump CRI-mea
        Donald Trump CRI-ppled America
        Donald Trump CRI-es
        Donald Trump CRI-bs

        Jack says “Google denies any political motive – but their algorithm is awfully kind.” There are hundreds of people at Google tweaking their algorithms all the time – but I’d bet not one is trying to make them “kind” to Hillary, or to anyone else. Kindness has diddly to do with it.

  5. My head is exploding!!!! Everyone — go to Facebook. Under the “trending” section there are icons. The second icon is “politics.” My top two trending topics are Anthony Weiner and Loretta Lynch.

    There is no conspiracy.

    Learn how technology works … and algorithims.

    • Why do you think this is a defense? On my list, the issue doesn’t appear at all, UNLESS I click on the politics icon. I never use Facebook to RESEARCH news stories; I just notice what happens to be given prominence on my page.

      Your argument is like saying that a misleading headline is OK because the story is accurate. Actually, it matters which facts are buried and which are featured. Same here.

      And conspiracy is Charles’ word, not mine. Of course there’s no organized, coordinated effort to deceive the public—well, except for all those reporters who ask Democrats to approve their quotes and stories—just a class of people in communications who do it relentlessly, because they are guided by bias rather than fairness, competence and responsibility.

      • There is no defense because there is no problem. Facebook organized political stories under the politics icon just like it organizes STEM stories under the STEM icon. If there were a conspiracy, there would be no politics icon at all OR the stories wouldn’t be listed there at all.

        My guess is that you didn’t even know this button existed until I mentioned it.

        Politics items rarely if ever make the main “trending” section. What you should be weeping about is that most people who use Facebook do not even know who Comey is.

        Further, the vast majority of my lawyer friends do not talk about politics on Facebook at all. This type of behavior skews algorithims.

        • Of course I knew the button existed: it’s exactly the same system as google news. I almost never use those either (though I have custom ones for ethics, unethical, and ethical) but if I’m going to use a category search, that’s where I’ll do it.

          The Google News over-all line-up at this moment:

          Top Stories
          Chicago Cubs
          Hillary Clinton
          MacBook Pro
          Donald Trump
          Washington Redskins
          The Walking Dead
          Dallas Cowboys
          New England Patriots

          Now that makes sense.

  6. Honestly, I think it’s that the general public just doesn’t really care all that much at this point. The Clinton followers in particular are just going to ignore it, as they’ve made their choice. The Trump followers may get up in arms on it, but they’ve also made their choice already and are not going to put much effort into it.

    The idea of trending on social media is it’s something that most people are passionate and rabid about in terms of something, and people at this point are just turned off on it. One more “blah blah blah” same old, same old, to many at this point.

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