[Air-L] western bias of facebook's trending topics

kalev leetaru kalev.leetaru5 at gmail.com
Fri May 13 10:55:00 PDT 2016

Thought many of you would find of interest my piece this morning mapping
the geography of Facebook's list of the 1,000 media outlets it uses for its
Trending Topics. The map on the second page may be of especial interest.
Its striking to see the heavy absence of even English language African and
Middle Eastern news outlets, even outlets like AllAfrica, as well as its
reliance on RSS feeds, which have largely been depreciated in the online
news space:


Facebook confirmed to me by email that the list of news outlets they use
was provided as-is by comScore, which claims to cover only 44 countries
with that media product and I've reached out to them for comment on why
their coverage of the region is so poor in the list they provided Facebook.

But, thought many of you would find of great interest. To me all of the
conversation about conservative/liberal bias masks what I see as the even
greater issue, which is the Western bias in the information streams that
are increasingly filtering the world around us. As well as how Silicon
Valley companies build services like Trending Topics on top of various
datasets without deeply understanding their biases and limitations or at
least being transparent about the inputs and filters they are using.

Those of you using large teams of human reviewers might also like my
previous piece, which looks at the unconscious bias and the apparently lack
of inter/intracoder reliability assessment in Facebook's operations:



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