Social media no longer serves as a home to the fifth estate. The alternative to the mainstream has metastasized into the mainstream. What was once an ecosystem that allowed independent media, citizen journalists, and bloggers with unique insight to thrive has now been absorbed by the Swamp. And the social network businesses, abandoning what made them great in the first place, are letting it happen. It is comparable to that girl who dumps her reliable, kind, and respectful boyfriend to date the bad boy who continually lies, cheats, and steals.
In April, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced plans to launch a news section that will aggregate media content.
Citing insiders close to the situation, The Wall Street Journal reports that the website is offering millions of dollars to license material from cash-strapped mainstream media outlets. In exchange for as much as $3 million per year, Facebook would use their headlines, article excerpts, and even full stories to complete the news feed. According to the newspaper, Facebook has approached Bloomberg, The Washington Post, ABC News, and Dow Jones (the parent company of WSJ). It is unknown if any these publishers have agreed to a deal, but it would be a lucrative arrangement for those suffering from falling revenues, tumbling resources, and an overall declining industry.
Facebook recently abandoned its disappointing trending news section. So, now it is favoring a new segment consisting of “high quality” and “trustworthy” news. If those are its objectives, then why it would turn to WaPo or ABC News is flummoxing – the former falsely reported that Russia hacked the Vermont electric grid, and the latter claimed Michael Flynn would testify that President Trump had ordered him to make contact with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign.
But while this is good for the establishment 1984 media, it is not a positive trend for the independent press, conservatives, or consumers worried about biased reportage.
Another Layer of Control
In the aftermath of the 2016 campaign, when President Donald Trump embarrassed the fake news industrial complex by defying its projections and analysis by winning the election, the elite had to come up with a wide variety of excuses. One of these was blaming social media for Trump’s victory. Apparently, a couple of senior citizens shared incorrect stories or FB posts that were manufactured by Russians, which is why the Counterfeit News Network practiced Pulitzer-worthy journalism and harassed an old lady on her front lawn.
Over the last couple of years, Facebook has sprung into action, collaborating with third-party fact-checkers, such as the Associated Press, PolitiFact, and Check Your Fact. Snopes recently withdrew from the agreement, a good thing for news consumers, too, since it cannot distinguish between serious news and satire (see: The Babylon Bee). Facebook has employed other methods as well, like enforcing the rules on purveyors of counterfeit stories and installing automated detectors.
These might be admirable efforts if it were not for the fact that there is an alleged strong anti-conservative bias at the $550 billion company.
Zuckerberg has already conceded on Capitol Hill that Silicon Valley is an “extremely left-leaning place” and he feels that political bias is a real “concern.” Since there are upwards of 20,000 people engaged in security and content review for the network, it is likely that a considerable number of reviewers are motivated by their political beliefs, especially in this age where people have become too emotional about politics. In 2018, for example, the website determined the Declaration of Independence as hate speech.
The move to import content from the mainstream media might be more about control over the narrative than providing the public with honest news. In other words, leading up to the 2020 presidential election, you can expect to find a greater number of left-leaning sources, you may anticipate more upbeat stories about the Democratic favorites, and you will inevitably come across mostly negative Trump news.
Facebook will not allow the same result to occur next election. Or, should the same outcome transpire, Zuckerberg does not want to be used as a scapegoat.
Bad News for Conservatives
Studies have found that most people get their news from social media, and this trend has perturbed the major newspapers and cable news networks for years. The days might be gradually coming to an end when you could spot stories on your Facebook feed or Twitter timeline that nobody else in the conventional press has covered. With everything in the media tilting more to the left, from fact-checking to composing the simplest of news stories, social media will no longer help you navigate through the narrative. It might be counterintuitive, but this could be a good thing because now you will need to stimulate your little gray cells and peruse between the lines of anything emanating from WaPo, The New York Times, or CBS News.