FILE - In this June 11, 2014, file photo, a man walks past a mural in an office on the Facebook campus in Menlo Park, Calif. On Thursday, May 12, 2016, Facebook pulled back the curtain on how its Trending Topics feature works, a reaction to a report that suggested Facebook downplays conservative news subjects. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

I Guess I Need to Clarify or Walk Back

My friend Ben Domenech, but for whom I would not be where I am today, is taking Glenn Beck and me to task for our comments on Facebook. In part, Ben writes

Facebook is the most powerful social media platform in the world. It is the primary news source for the bulk of America. Glenn Beck walked into a room with them and loudly insisted he was uninterested in influencing their hiring decisions which leave out conservatives, because he wanted to out-conservative everyone in the room. But the whole reason the meeting was even happening was that Facebook was admitting their fault; that they had, just like CNN, hired a lineup that did not match up with the country. They were looking for guidance because they acknowledged they had screwed up – that what they had represented as an algorithm was in fact a regimen guided by humans, and humans with opinions, and that these humans and those above them had misrepresented what the news was to millions of people for a very long time.

As I wrote the other day, I think there is a bias problem at Facebook and I suggested to them that they should consider hiring conservatives to help root out stories of conservative interest if they are going to have people involved in shaping the news trends.

I also, in my private conversations with Facebook, used The Federalist and Daily Signal as two sites they need to consider looking to for guidance on topics and I highlighted the Planned Parenthood/Center for Medical Progress issue as a case in point.

I understand that at the meeting there were a lot of good suggestions. I could not be in the room due to health reasons, but I talked to a number of people who were at the meeting. Though I did not talk to Jim DeMint, my understanding from several people in the room was that he and Heritage did a very good job of making useful suggestions. Others did as well.

But I also know that the American Conservative Union refused to go because, in part, Facebook had not coughed up cash for CPAC. And I also know that others did not make suggestions, but instead made specific demands to Facebook that the company would not be treated seriously if it did not do certain things. That’s what I have the problem with.

Yes, I think Facebook has issues. Yes, I think suggestions and offering advice are good, beneficial, and I did it too. But I have a problem when certain groups complain about not getting money from a private corporation and others go beyond offering up suggestions to drawing lines in the sand that certain things must happen.

To the extent that Ben or anyone else took me as calling out all those who attended as the equivalent of Jesse Jackson, I’m sorry. That absolutely was not my intent. But there are some in our movement who’ve become rent-a-conservative and I’ve got a problem with those few who have become rent seekers.

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Erick Erickson

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