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Deleting the weather report to make the rain go away

“Facebook axes team over far-right data”, says the Times.

Facebook has disbanded one of its teams after the data they produced suggested that far-right commentators outperformed all other users.

Facebook executives, including Sir Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister, became concerned that the CrowdTangle tool was being used by journalists to produce embarrassing evidence that right-wing content was read more than anything else on the platform.

The analytics tool is owned by Facebook but is available to the public. It is one of the only ways for users to measure how well a post is doing in terms of being shared, commented on, liked or receiving a reaction emoji.

Clegg, Facebook’s vice-president of global affairs, told colleagues last September that he was concerned “our own tools are helping journos to consolidate the wrong narrative”, according to The New York Times.

CrowdTangle’s data showed that in the US the links posted on Facebook to other websites which got the most engagement was to content by right-wing commentators such as Ben Shapiro and the Fox News host Sean Hannity, and to right-wing sites including Breitbart and Newsmax.

A commenter called LucasTheCat gave me the title for this post when they responded, “This is strange for two reasons – none of the commentators listed are what I would consider to be ‘far right’ and isn’t removing the report – the same as taking the weather report out of your paper – because you don’t like the weather – or am I missing something?”

By the way, the idea that Nick Clegg was released on the world deliberately is a fringe conspiracy theory that Facebook has rightly banned. The current theory is that he was accidentally leaked from an insufficiently secured British political system.

6 comments to Deleting the weather report to make the rain go away

  • AKM

    Apart from the bubble-dwellers themselves, everyone outside their bubble is ‘far-right’ these days except for those people we used to call ‘far-right’ who are now called ‘alt-right’ (to distinguish them from the other alternative right-wing movements such as the social-conservatives or the libertarians or the moderate nationalists).

  • The Jannie

    “The current theory is that he was accidentally leaked from an insufficiently secured British political system.”

    Or floated to the top of the sewer which is British politics?

  • Alsadius

    It was bad PR. The left hates Facebook for being too full of right-wing Boomers, and CrowdTangle offering actual data backing up this argument was getting them a lot of flak that they didn’t want. Removing the weather report from your paper is a rational response when people start blaming you for rain.

    And this is a heck of a lot better than Facebook actually trying to censor conservatives more aggressively.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    It was bad PR. The left hates Facebook for being too full of right-wing Boomers, and CrowdTangle offering actual data backing up this argument was getting them a lot of flak that they didn’t want.

    Yes. We know. What’s your point?

    Removing the weather report from your paper is a rational response when people start blaming you for rain.

    Yes. We know. What’s your point?

    The fact that it was a rational action to take should reveal greater truths to you. But, alas, les limites de la connaissance sont celles de sa nature.

    And this is a heck of a lot better than Facebook actually trying to censor conservatives more aggressively.

    Indeed. And it was a heck of a lot better when the Nazis were placing yellow stars on the upper arms of Jews rather than trying to confine them to concentration camps more aggressively.

    As was concluded by numerous commenters months ago, you are either a troll or have not yet learned how to think.

  • Alsadius (July 17, 2021 at 4:58 pm), that is a very strange comment. As regards your

    this is a heck of a lot better than Facebook actually trying to censor conservatives more aggressively.

    Facebook informs us they now are censoring conservative Facebook data directly, and are doing so to restrict their viewpoint:

    Clegg, Facebook’s vice-president of global affairs, told colleagues last September that he was concerned “our own tools are helping journos to consolidate the wrong narrative”,

    So (over and above that) it is common sense to ask what will happen after Facebook has hidden evidence of interest in conservative posts but left very visible any evidence of accusations against those same posts. Given how the Facebook banning process ostensibly justifies itself, does not showing data on protests while hiding data on support imply increased likelihood of banning? Clegg may not be blessed with much foresight, but grant him the ability to foresee and intend that.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes the Times (not just the Guardian and so on) regards any dissent as “far right”.

    And people are shocked when I tell that I am quite likely to die in prison – indeed a lot of people who are far more moderate than me may well suffer the same fate.

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