Report: Facebook Suppressed Breitbart News Traffic by Twenty Percent


The Wall Street Journal has published internal material from anonymous sources at Facebook revealing that the company introduced tools that suppressed the traffic of Breitbart News by 20 percent, and other conservative publishers by double-digit margins. The company introduced two tools after the 2016 election that disproportionately harmed conservative publishers. The Journal highlights internal Facebook research showing that if both tools were removed, it would increase traffic to Breitbart News by 20 percent, the Washington Times by 18 percent, Western Journal by 16 percent, and the Epoch Times by 11 percent. Facebook eventually removed one of the tools while keeping the other — but it is unclear which of them had the most impact on traffic. According to the Wall Street Journal, one of Facebook’s researchers feared, “We could face significant backlash for having ‘experimented’ with distribution at the expense of conservative publishers.” The story also revealed that Breitbart News is relegated to a “second tier” of the platform’s News Tab, where it gets less exposure than its corporate establishment competitors. On top of this, Facebook is directly paying Breitbart News’s competitors, establishment media conglomerates including the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times — while offering no such compensation to Breitbart News. Despite Facebook’s favoritism and financial support of its establishment competitors, Breitbart News continues to be wildly popular with Facebook’s users. In August, data from Facebook-owned social media analytics company Crowdtangle showed Breitbart News demolishes its competitors in generating engagement from Facebook’s users. The data showed Breitbart earned more Facebook engagement than The New York Times, the Washington Post, and HuffPo combined. Breitbart surpassed the Wall Street Journal and CNN by healthy margins as well.

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