Inside Facebook’s Data Wars


“Reach leaderboard isn’t a total win from a comms point of view,” Mr. Silverman wrote.

Mr. Schultz, Facebook’s chief advertising officer, had the dimmest view of CrowdTangle. He wrote that he thought “the only way to avoid stories like this” could be for Facebook to publish its personal reviews about the preferred content material on its platform, slightly than releasing knowledge via CrowdTangle.

“If we go down the route of just offering more self-service data you will get different, exciting, negative stories in my opinion,” he wrote.

Mr. Osborne, the Facebook spokesman, mentioned Mr. Schultz and the opposite executives have been discussing methods to right misrepresentations of CrowdTangle knowledge, not strategizing about killing off the instrument.

A couple of days after the election in November, Mr. Schultz wrote a post for the company blog, known as “What Do People Actually See on Facebook in the U.S.?” He defined that for those who ranked Facebook posts based mostly on which received essentially the most attain, slightly than essentially the most engagement — his most well-liked methodology of slicing the info — you’d find yourself with a extra mainstream, much less sharply partisan listing of sources.

“We believe this paints a more complete picture than the CrowdTangle data alone,” he wrote.

That could also be true, however there’s an issue with attain knowledge: Most of it’s inaccessible and might’t be vetted or fact-checked by outsiders. We merely need to belief that Facebook’s personal, non-public knowledge tells a narrative that’s very totally different from the info it shares with the general public.

Mr. Zuckerberg is true about one factor: Facebook is just not an enormous right-wing echo chamber.

But it does comprise an enormous right-wing echo chamber — a sort of AM speak radio constructed into the guts of Facebook’s information ecosystem, with a hyper-engaged viewers of loyal partisans who love liking, sharing and clicking on posts from right-wing pages, a lot of which have gotten good at serving up Facebook-optimized outrage bait at a constant clip.

CrowdTangle’s knowledge made this echo chamber simpler for outsiders to see and quantify. But it didn’t create it, or give it the instruments it wanted to develop — Facebook did — and blaming an information instrument for these revelations makes no extra sense than blaming a thermometer for dangerous climate.



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