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)

Some Thoughts on Facebook and Conservatives

“I think Facebook has been far more open and fair to conservatives than Twitter, which seems increasingly hostile toward conservatives.”

I am one of the people who got contacted by Facebook about this coming week’s meeting. I will not be attending. Frankly, I would not mind going, but (1) I am not allowed on an commercial airline* for another month because I’m still dealing with pulmonary embolisms and (2) it’d really be a bit of a waste of time. Here’s why.

As I told those with whom I spoke, my feelings are not hurt. The Resurgent gets a great deal of daily incoming traffic from Facebook. Facebook has been very responsive to our needs and has helped answer questions when we have asked. Likewise, I do not view The Resurgent as a news site, but as a site for conservative activists. We don’t fit as a website from which to form a trending news list except in rare occasion and on those occasions we have actually been in the trending news list.

All that said, I will share what I shared with them.

I still have great relationships with the folks at CNN though I have not worked there in four years. They were and are good people and I call many of them friends. I know many of them were to the left of me, but I thought they tried to balance out most topics. But, on multiple occasions I recall having to go on television to talk about news stories that originated on left of center websites and never once did so over stories from right of center sites except when I myself offered up the stories. Likewise, before most topics were discussed producers would send emails with relevant links to relevant stories on the topics. There were always more links to left of center sites covering the stories than right of center sites. Talking Points Memo and Think Progress more regularly appeared than a RedState or National Review link.

It was not so much an intentional liberal bias as it was a world view and a relationship. When all your friends are looking at the same things on the internet, you’ll find you are too. So it is with news producers and editors. The single greatest difference I have found between CNN and Fox is not ideology, but geographical perspective. At CNN, the news direction seems more coastal and at Fox it seems more heartland. While at CNN they may go on ad nauseum about the Oscars or the White House Correspondence Dinner, at Fox those subjects might get mentioned before moving on to cover a story about a troop homecoming in Oklahoma or some such. Most of the networks cater to those who live within 25 miles of a coast. Fox caters to the rest of America residing within 100 miles of the various inland river valleys. The world views are different as a result of the geographic biases.

I used that as the issue with Facebook. If all their news editors who help shape the trending topics are New Yorkers or millennial liberals, they are going to pick and choose and exclude different stories from a conservative. It may in some cases be intentional. It is often subconscious due to upbringing, world view, or location.

Facebook has grown extremely influential. There are a lot of people out there who, if you asked them, would say they don’t spend time on the internet. But they spend extraordinary amounts of time on Facebook, which they view as different from the internet. Facebook is a private company and can do whatever it wants, but I do hope the company takes care to not just cater to one political view and does not censor stories because those stories conflict with the world view of the news editors or management.

The Resurgent gets a lot of traffic from Facebook. On an average day, about a quarter of our site traffic comes through people sharing links on their Facebook page. We are a five month old site and, because of this, have been topping 100,000 page views almost every day since we started. I think we have gotten fair access thus far and I think given Facebook’s willingness to reach out and talk that they are showing they are open to all sides.

I appreciate the company reaching out to me, am sorry I can’t get to the meeting next week, but think the fact that Facebook is reaching out is a positive sign. Frankly, I think Facebook has been far more open and fair to conservatives than Twitter, which seems increasingly hostile toward conservatives.

*This is just another reason I need a Gulfstream 650, which has cabin pressurization that would allow me to travel. Anybody got $70 million laying around?

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Erick Erickson

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