A report seems to confirm that Ben Shapiro was “shadow-boosted” by Facebook’s algorithm, meaning his content enters the feeds of people otherwise unlikely to interact with the personality.
The report from Buzzfeed, which mostly erroneously focuses on claims that Facebook is somehow a safe-haven for supporters of Alex Jones and Infowars, revealed that Ben Shapiro had been pushed into the feeds of Facebook users who had not interacted with his content.
The report details changes made to a Facebook feature called In Feed Recommendations, which would insert posts into the Facebook feeds of people that they didn’t follow, but were similar to content they liked already. Buzzfeed gives the example of someone who followed the page for a specific football team, who may then see content from the NFL put into their feed.
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However, the IFR was not meant to recommend political content, yet users began complaining that they were seeing posts from Ben Shapiro in their news feeds, “even though they had never engaged with that type of content”:
When the issue was flagged internally, Facebook’s content policy team warned that removing such suggestions for political content could reduce those pages’ engagement and traffic, and possibly inspire complaints from publishers. A News Feed product manager and a policy team member reiterated this argument in an August post to Facebook’s internal message board.
Important story. Among the findings: Ben Shapiro was shadow-promoted on Facebook, giving him an algorithmic advantage over his ideological foes https://t.co/Yn3NFHFoGi
— Gady Epstein (@gadyepstein) February 21, 2021
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It is unclear who else may have been subject to the “shadow-boosting” by Facebook, as opposed to being shadow-banned, which many conservatives were subject to on Facebook and other Big Tech platforms, such as Twitter. Shapiro, the editor-in-chief of the Daily Wire, is a long-time critic of President Donald Trump and America First conservatives, and as such, Facebook’s actions may raise eyebrows on the right.
National File reported earlier this month that Shapiro had stood in defense of Senator Mitt Romney’s vote to impeach President Trump for a second time. He also attacked Trump-ally and Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Dr. Kelli Ward for censuring Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, who Shapiro called excellent. Ducey blocked attempts to examine the integrity of the 2016 presidential election in the state, refusing to call the state legislature back into session despite calls from the Republican Party and President Trump.