Wednesday, August 21, 2019

2.6 Million Reasons to Keep Yelling About “Bias” | Slate

Check the full post for more on Robert Epstein's dubious research; tangentially, see Talk Radio Made Today’s Republican Party | The Atlantic
"Despite the severe limitations of Epstein’s research, Trump latched on, exaggerating the already unbelievable findings. Even Epstein didn’t claim that Google directly “manipulated” any votes, and his high number was 10.4 million votes, not 16 million.

Although Trump has reportedly recently weighed signing an executive order that would have federal agencies police how social media companies moderate user content, it’s hard to believe that some sort of real crackdown is in the works—or that if one was, it could survive a court challenge. It’s more likely that conservatives keep talking about bias on social platforms for two reasons. One, the topic really fires up their extremely online supporters—like the group of conspiracy theorists, Infowars regulars and racist meme-makers that the White House hosted recently at a “social media summit.”

The second reason is social media really does work in conservatives’ favor, and they don’t want the companies to do anything that might change that. Month after month this year, the Trump campaign has outspent all the Democratic candidates combined on Facebook ads. Even after the company tweaked its news-feed algorithm to deprioritize news and politics, conservatives across the board are thriving on Facebook. Fox News is one of the biggest publishers on Facebook, far outranking CNN in terms of both followers and engagement. Not coincidentally, all of this discussion of bias obscures many of the real problems with social media—like their ability to amplify emotional and divisive content and their vulnerability to misinformation."
2.6 Million Reasons to Keep Yelling About “Bias” | Slate

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