In the upcoming June issue of Texas Fish & Game Magazine, Publisher, Roy Neves, penned an interesting column discussing the censorship war that Facebook has been waging against the outdoor industry and any other adversary that doesn’t fall in line with their belief system.
Many of us who work in the outdoor industry, particularly with hunting and firearms, has know that this content suppression has been going on for quite some time. With every adjustment to Facebook’s mile long terms of service policy, they have chipped away at topics that could be considered “controversial” or “inappropriate.” The reality of the situation is far worse.
An article was published yesterday by Gizmodo explaining just how Facebook censors news that is not aligned with their political ideology. Through interviews with former journalists that worked in the news curation department of Facebook we learned that the social network “routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network’s influential ‘trending’ news section.”
For the record, I am not by any means under the impression that everyone who participates in outdoor activities such as hunting and shooting are conservative. Having said that, there is a large majority of firearms related content that is bulked into the category of conservative news.
Gizmodo went on to state “several former Facebook ‘news curators,’ as they were known internally, also told Gizmodo that they were instructed to artificially ‘inject’ selected stories into the trending news module, even if they weren’t popular enough to warrant inclusion—or in some cases weren’t trending at all.”
So what does this mean for the outdoors industry? The simple fact is that Facebook operates like any other major news outlet, imposing the political and cultural biases of their staff on the content being distributed. In fact, it is against company policy for the news curators to push through news that even pertains to Facebook.
Many people believed in the strength of Facebook’s algorithms to pull news that was organically trending and insert the stories into their trending news section. Even Facebook’s description on the trending news section states that it covers “topics that have recently become popular on Facebook.”
I call bullshit.
For the better part of a year we have been fighting with Facebook to get our content distributed to our audience, but that is easier said than done.
If you are unfamiliar with the how Facebook treats its organizational level pages, here is a brief rundown.
Facebook has become one of our primary drivers of content to our readers. Texas Fish & Game has right around 51,000 likes on our Facebook page. It is not Kardashian numbers, but we think we are doing pretty good for a regional hunting and fishing publication.
Every news story that we publish on FishGame.com is pushed to our Facebook page for distribution to our Facebook audience. The kicker is, Facebook will not give us access to our entire audience unless we pay them to “boost” a post. By boosting a post, depending on how much money we put down, we have the ability to distribute that single story to our entire audience and then some.
In recent months, we have made the adjustment to our budget to account for the added expense of boosting Facebook posts, but then they took it a step further.
Texas Fish & Game was recently all out banned from boosting posts due to violations of the new terms of service. We attempted to boost a firearms related post and Facebook pulled the cord on us.
After some arguing back and forth with the social media giant, we received a stern lecture on the subject matter of our content and they reenabled the boosting feature on our account.
In light of the recent Gizmodo story I am drawing my line. I call bullshit.
I understand that some of you naysayers will claim that Facebook is entitled to handle their audience however they choose, and I agree. Facebook is a private company and they are entitled to dictate the rules of their social media platform.
My concern stems from something more deeply rooted. When did we become a nation of individuals that could not coexist unless everyone had the same opinion on everything?
More and more I see news stories of people shouting down other groups because they have a different opinion. Freedom of speech has become something that only appropriate for the group that is currently on the soap box.
I call bullshit.
This is not a conservative or liberal message, this is a message of common sense. It is perfectly acceptable for people of different belief system to strongly disagree on a topic but remain cordial. The damnedest thing is that we have lost our ability to be civil and respectful.
Facebook is a prime example of entitled people who need to feel like they are making a difference in the world taking something away from another group because it is just so appalling that they can’t sleep at night.
GROW THE EFF UP FACEBOOK.
Some people hunt and fish, some people hike, some people just like to take wildlife photography, and there is plenty of space on this planet for all of the above and more.
If you hobby is early 16th century Japanese calligraphy, I fully support your ambitious pursuit of that skill-set. Just don’t be an ass and ruin what we enjoy.
You may not agree with our hobbies, but we need to return to a place where we can coexist.
If there is one thing we know its that ignorant closed minded jackasses breed even more ignorant closed minded jackasses, which leads us to where we are today.
For the sake of our nation, teach your kids to have an open mind.
As for Facebook, we are going to keep on fighting for what we little ground we can gain. Its a guarantee that you will not see any of our content on the trending news section. If you want to be sure you don’t miss any of our content, be sure to check out our Twitter page.
Now lets see if they will let me boost this post…