Having missed the boat completely on fake news, Facebook appears to now be dropping the hammer on the real stuff.
The nonprofit investigative journalism outlet Reveal published a major story this week regarding immigrant children allegedly being forcibly injected with drugs at a government-contractor run detention center. As outlets do these days, it attempted to share the story on Facebook with its readers. And, possibly because Facebook’s opaque Newsfeed algorithm means no one has any idea if their followers will even see the story, the organization also tried to boost the story’s reach with an ad buy.
But Facebook shut it down.
In a tweet that included a screenshot of the attempted Facebook boost, Reveal claimed that the social media company was prohibiting it from paying to distribute its story due to the story’s supposed nature as “political content.”
The story, of course, is a news story.
“Hi there, @facebook,” read the tweet. “This is not political content. This is journalistic content that deals with policy. There’s a difference.”
The condemnation of Facebook’s move was swift, with ProPublica immediately jumping on Twitter to share the story and bring light to Facebook’s action.
New York Times reporter Mike Isaac, meanwhile, noted that Reveal’s problem isn’t limited to that one publication.
“NYT CEO Mark Thompson has been railing about things like this on Facebook for a week,” he wrote. “Facebook’s tools are actively blocking real, informed journalism while pages like InfoWars go untouched[.] [What] has Facebook done to prove it deserves the power it holds?”
NYT CEO Mark Thompson has been railing about things like this on Facebook for a week. Facebook’s tools are actively blocking real, informed journalism while pages like InfoWars go untouched
what has Facebook done to prove it deserves the power it holds?https://t.co/aIIx7r8Tct
— ಠ_ಠ (@MikeIsaac) June 20, 2018
The policy in question was announced by Facebook in May, with the stated goal of cleaning up its mucky social-media house. Essentially, if you were going to run political ads you had to disclose who funded them and have an account verified by Facebook to do so.
“Our ultimate goal is to help make sure people know who is trying to share messages with them as well as who is paying for them,” Katie Harbath, Facebook’s Global Politics and Government Outreach Director, said at the time.
Facebook obviously didn’t work out the kinks before launching the new product. Thankfully, the Streisand effect is still kink-free.