Political bias in social media algorithms and media monetization models

New reports reveal yet more structural political biases in consumption and monetization models.

More evidence has emerged about how Facebook tilted its algorithm in favor of conservative voices:

In fact, we have now learned that executives were even shown a slide presentation that highlighted the impact of the second iteration on about a dozen specific publishers—and Mother Jones was singled out as one that would suffer, while the conservative site the Daily Wire was identified as one that would benefit. These changes were pushed by Republican operatives working in Facebook’s Washington office under Vice President of Global Public Policy Joel Kaplan.

Meanwhile, conservative propaganda outlets are popping up outside the paywalls of legitimate news organizations, including a network of 1,211 websites designed to look local while taking GOP megadonor money to amplify issues of their interest:

The Times reviewed the history behind dozens of articles in the publishing tool, revealing more than 80 [political clients]. Many have pitched stories with instructions on what reporters should write, whom they should talk to and what they should ask. Over 17 days in July, these clients ordered up around 200 articles, company records show.

Internal documents show how much influence the clients have. “The clients pay us to produce a certain amount of copy each day for their websites,” said one “tool kit” for new writers. “In some cases, the clients will provide their own copy.”

Meanwhile, The Sacramento Bee is considering a pay per click scheme for its reporters, a monetization model that has been shown to lead to click-bait stories and push journalists to optimize for controversy over common cause. For example, consider how social networks positively reward controversy and lead to radicalization and experience bubbles.