Facebook has a problem with sensational and misleading content despite VP Nick Clegg’s claims – By Kayla Gogarty, Carly Evans, Kellie Levine (Media Matters) / April 12 2021
Right-wing personalities Ben Shapiro and Dan Bongino earned hundreds of millions more interactions in 2020 and the beginning of 2021 than in previous years
Right-wing personalities who post sensational and misleading content continue to earn high engagement on Facebook, despite Vice President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg’s comments that “Facebook’s systems are not designed to reward provocative content.” In a new study, Media Matters found that Ben Shapiro and Dan Bongino, two right-wing figures who frequently post sensational stories and fearmongering or misleading content on Facebook, actually earned significantly more engagement in 2020 and 2021 than in previous years — undermining Clegg’s claims.
On March 31, Clegg wrote a response to allegations that “social media fuels polarization, exploits human weaknesses and insecurities, and creates echo chambers where everyone gets their own slice of reality, eroding the public sphere and the understanding of common facts.” In the article, Clegg discussed Facebook’s ranking system and claimed that Facebook actually downranks sensational content and pages that consistently post this content.
- Central to many of the charges by Facebook’s critics is the idea that its algorithmic systems actively encourage the sharing of sensational content and are designed to keep people scrolling endlessly. Of course, on a platform built around people sharing things they are interested in or moved by, content that provokes strong emotions is invariably going to be shared. At one level, the fact that people respond to sensational content isn’t new. As generations of newspaper sub-editors can attest, emotive language and arresting imagery grab people’s attention and engage them. It’s human nature. But Facebook’s systems are not designed to reward provocative content. In fact, key parts of those systems are designed to do just the opposite.