Facebook’s Right-Wing Outrage Machine, CrowdTangle, and Kevin Roose

Facebook owns a data analytics service called CrowdTangle. CrowdTangle allows journalists and researchers to examine and study the “engagement” of link posts on Facebook. NYT columnist Kevin Roose has been using CrowdTangle’s engagement data to publish the excellent @FacebooksTop10 account on Twitter, which lists the 10 top-performing posts on Facebook every day. Unsurprisingly, most days, the list is dominated by right-wing commentators.

Roose today has a long column — incredibly well-sourced — that digs into Facebook’s response to this imbroglio, which, unsurprisingly, has been to treat it as a perception problem rather than a product problem:

Mr. Zuckerberg is right about one thing: Facebook is not a giant right-wing echo chamber.

But it does contain a giant right-wing echo chamber — a kind of AM talk radio built into the heart of Facebook’s news ecosystem, with a hyper-engaged audience of loyal partisans who love liking, sharing and clicking on posts from right-wing pages, many of which have gotten good at serving up Facebook-optimized outrage bait at a consistent clip.

CrowdTangle’s data made this echo chamber easier for outsiders to see and quantify. But it didn’t create it, or give it the tools it needed to grow — Facebook did — and blaming a data tool for these revelations makes no more sense than blaming a thermometer for bad weather.

Wednesday, 14 July 2021