Online political activists fret about Facebook bias

Online political activists say they perceive a bias in the way Facebook administrators have distributed a new software key, The Daily Caller reports:

Facebook’s managers are deploying a new software upgrade that will dismantle myriad groups of like-minded political activists unless they get a special software key from the company.

But Facebook managers are providing very limited information about which groups are being favored with the new key, prompting some activists to complain about possible political favoritism among Facebook managers, and many other activists to experiment with techniques and tricks to get the needed upgrade-key.

Some small anecdotal evidence suggests the bias might be real. Groups like “The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence,” the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s open group and “Labor Express Radio” all received the key, but “Stop Islamization of America” and “The Coalition to Save Marriage in New York” didn’t, for example. Then, too, Facebook execs have been known to state their support for liberal causes and candidates.

But mostly, it’s Facebook’s lack of transparency about the upgrade process that leaves room for suspicion. The company could eliminate the speculation with a simple explanation of the criteria to receive the new key. According to a statement from Andrew Noyes, the company’s manager for public policy, Facebook determined what groups to archive (i.e. what groups would not receive the new key) based on “a number of factors, including amount of recent activity.” But some groups with just a few thousand members have received the upgrade while larger and more active groups — even groups with up to nearly 1 million members — haven’t.

Fortunately, the upgrade doesn’t affect the “Pages” feature, and Facebook has encouraged groups to convert their content to a page. Which reminds me — If you like, would you take a minute to visit our page and fan us on Facebook? Regardless of whether the company actually distributes software keys with political motivations in mind, it can’t hurt Mark Zuckerberg and the other Obama fans at Facebook to know how many of us have a different mindset!