Brent Bozell: Facebook's conservative bias analysis desperately needs a do-over to be credible

According to one national survey, 76 percent of conservatives don’t trust Facebook, and the company just gave them another reason why — its new report whitewashing bias against conservatives.

Facebook hired former Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl and his team at Covington & Burling to compile conservative complaints about bias on the site. That was in May of 2018.

A second audit was also commissioned, this of left-wing groups and their amusing complaint that they aren’t powerful enough at Facebook.

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The ACLU’s Laura Murphy had been tasked by Facebook to coordinate and analyze the left’s criticisms of the platform. She interviewed 90 liberal groups wanting to make “real and lasting progress in the area of civil rights and civil liberties.”

The first draft of that report was delivered just in time for Christmas. It included more than three pages devoted to helping the left get further involved with Facebook’s work on voting and elections, along with content, advertising and hiring. Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg quickly committed to making it “one of my top priorities for 2019.”

Then, in June, a second liberal audit came out. This one was 27-pages long and applauded that Facebook had “created and institutionalized a Civil Rights Task Force” — exactly what they wanted. That group gives the left influence on every aspect of the company from content to partnerships. It also explained how liberals will guide how the company handles both the census and election.

Meanwhile conservatives continued to wait … and wait. Representatives from 133 organizations had been interviewed by Kyl and had supplied him with an avalanche of evidence of take-downs, suspensions and outright censorship. Conservatives were stunned watching Facebook announcing its move forward on a mountain of liberal issues without addressing — even recognizing — the right’s complaints.

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Finally, more than 470 days after the project announcement, Kyl’s audit was released — and shocked conservatives. It was cleansed of the evidence and downplayed their criticisms. It didn’t even acknowledge conservative complaints as legitimate.

The report focused on the word “believe.” Kyl used it nine separate times. We are told, “many conservatives lost trust in Facebook, believing it discriminated against them.” It wasn’t many, it’s most; they don’t just believe, they know.

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Where the far-left audit proposed two pages of “recommendations,” the Kyl report contained no such section. The conservative report delivered a wobbly-kneed discussion of “perceived bias,” while the left demanded, and received, change.

The left cheered.

Far-left Mother Jones wrote a typical analysis: “Facebook’s Anti-Conservative Bias Report Does Not Identify Any Anti-Conservative Bias.” Liberal tech site The Verge described it as “The conservative audit of bias on Facebook is long on feelings and short on facts.”

It’s hard to argue with those assessments, based on Kyl’s report. What did he leave out? Only the heart of conservative complaints. Here are just a few examples:

  • Facebook suspended the account of Rev. Franklin Graham over a 2-year-old post about transgender bathrooms. It then restored the account and apologized. On the other hand, when Islamic hate preacher Zahran Hashim declared: “We can kill women and children with bombs. It is right,” there was no reaction from Facebook until 250 people, including women and children, were killed in the Sri Lankan bombings.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's son Yair was suspended for 24 hours for condemning the Palestinian terrorists who killed two Israeli soldiers. By comparison, the leader of the world’s biggest terror exporter — Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called Israel a “barbaric” state that “has no cure but to be annihilated.” He remains on.
  • The president of the United States wasn’t allowed to post one of his ads a day before the midterm election. It was focused on a convicted cop killer and the dangers of illegal immigration. Meanwhile liberal billionaire Reid Hoffman funded an unethical operation to manipulate the 2017 Alabama special Senate election with fake Facebook pages. In other words, he did just like what Russia has been doing, only in this case Facebook didn’t care. He remains.
  • Trump’s White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino Jr. was restricted on his own Facebook account for posting what the site called “spam.” Contrast that with Missouri state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal who posted, “I hope Trump is Assassinated” on her Facebook page. She, too, remains.

Conservatives have dozens upon dozens of similar complaints, which is dozens upon dozens more than documented by liberals.

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It’s all part of a pattern. Sandberg, Facebook’s second-in-command, recently gave her second $1-million check to Planned Parenthood. No wonder she also gave the left everything it wanted. And no wonder she refuses to even meet with conservatives. (CEO Mark Zuckerberg, it should be noted, has done so repeatedly.)

Facebook is now backpedaling and insisting Kyl’s report was only a first draft. Fair enough. Then Facebook must do what one does with a sloppy, incomplete first draft: Throw it away and start anew.

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