Facebook news selection is in hands of editors not algorithm

Facebook news selection is in hands of editors not algorithm

Postby admin » Fri Nov 11, 2016 1:12 am

Facebook news selection is in hands of editors not algorithms, documents show: Leaked internal guidelines show human intervention at almost every stage of its news operation, akin to a traditional media organization
by Sam Thielman in New York @samthielman
12 May 2016



Leaked documents show how Facebook, now the biggest news distributor on the planet, relies on old-fashioned news values on top of its algorithms to determine what the hottest stories will be for the 1 billion people who visit the social network every day.

The documents, given to the Guardian, come amid growing concerns over how Facebook decides what is news for its users. This week the company was accused of an editorial bias against conservative news organizations, prompting calls for a congressional inquiry from the US Senate commerce committee chair, John Thune.

The boilerplate about its news operations provided to customers by the company suggests that much of its news gathering is determined by machines: “The topics you see are based on a number of factors including engagement, timeliness, Pages you’ve liked and your location,” says a page devoted to the question “How does Facebook determine what topics are trending?”

But the documents show that the company relies heavily on the intervention of a small editorial team to determine what makes its “trending module” headlines – the list of news topics that shows up on the side of the browser window on Facebook’s desktop version. The company backed away from a pure-algorithm approach in 2014 after criticism that it had not included enough coverage of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, in users’ feeds.

The guidelines show human intervention – and therefore editorial decisions – at almost every stage of Facebook’s trending news operation, a team that at one time was as few as 12 people:

A team of news editors working in shifts around the clock was instructed on how to “inject” stories into the trending topics module, and how to “blacklist” topics for removal for up to a day over reasons including “doesn’t represent a real-world event”, left to the discretion of the editors.

The company wrote that “the editorial team CAN [sic] inject a newsworthy topic” as well if users create something that attracts a lot of attention, for example #BlackLivesMatter.

Facebook relies heavily on just 10 news sources to determine whether a trending news story has editorial authority. “You should mark a topic as ‘National Story’ importance if it is among the 1-3 top stories of the day,” reads the trending review guidelines for the US. “We measure this by checking if it is leading at least 5 of the following 10 news websites: BBC News, CNN, Fox News, The Guardian, NBC News, The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Yahoo News or Yahoo.”

Strict guidelines are enforced around Facebook’s “involved in this story” feature, which pulls information from Facebook pages of newsmakers – say, a sports star or a famous author. The guidelines give editors ways to determine which users’ pages are appropriate to cite, and how prominently.

The company’s guidelines are very similar to a traditional news organization’s, with a style guide reminiscent of the Associated Press guide, a list of trusted sources and instructions for determining newsworthiness. (The Guardian also obtained the guidelines for moderating the “in the story” feature, now called “involved in this story”; the guidelines for the company’s Facebook Paper app; and a broader editorial guide for the app.)

The guidelines are sure to bolster arguments that Facebook has made discriminatory editorial decisions against rightwing media. Conservatives would label the majority of Facebook’s primary sources as liberal.

They also appear to undermine claims this week from Facebook’s vice-president of search, Tom Stocky, who posted a statement addressing the controversy on 9 May. “We do not insert stories artificially into trending topics, and do not instruct our reviewers to do so,” he wrote.

Stocky’s statement may depend on the definition of the word “artificially”. In interviews with the Guardian, three former editors said they had indeed inserted stories that were not visible to users into the trending feed in order to make the experience more topical. All denied personal bias, but all said the human element was vital.

A second list, of 1,000 trusted sources, was provided to the Guardian by Facebook. It includes prominent conservative news outlets such as Redstate, Breitbart, the Drudge Report and the Daily Caller.

Former employees who worked in Facebook’s news organization said that they did not agree with the Gizmodo report on Monday alleging partisan misconduct on the part of the social network. They did admit the presence of human judgment in part because the company’s algorithm did not always create the best possible mix of news.

Specifically, complaints about the absence from trending feeds of news reports about clashes between protesters and police in Ferguson in 2014 were evidence to Facebook that – in the specific case of the trending module – humans had better news judgment than the company’s algorithm. Multiple news stories criticized Facebook for apparently prioritizing Ice Bucket Challenge videos over the riots. Many said the incident proved that Twitter was the place for hard news, and Facebook was a destination for fluff.

“The guidelines demonstrate that we have a series of checks and balances in place to help surface the most important popular stories, regardless of where they fall on the ideological spectrum,” said Justin Osofsky, Facebook’s vice-president of global operations. “Facebook does not allow or advise our reviewers to systematically discriminate against sources of any political origin, period. What these guidelines show is that we’ve approached this responsibly and with the goal of creating a high-quality product – in the hopes of delivering a meaningful experience for the people who use our service.

“Trending Topics uses a variety of mechanisms to help surface events and topics that are happening in the real world. In our guidelines, we rely on more than a thousand sources of news – from around the world, and of all sizes and viewpoints – to help verify and characterize world events and what people are talking about. The intent of verifying against news outlets is to surface topics that are meaningful to people and newsworthy. We have at no time sought to weight any one viewpoint over another, and in fact our guidelines are designed with the intent to make sure we do not do so.”
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Re: Facebook news selection is in hands of editors not algor

Postby admin » Fri Nov 11, 2016 1:13 am

Trending Review Guidelines
by Facebook




Welcome to Trending, where Facebook connects people to the most discussed, liked, commented on, and shared topics of the moment. This guide includes step-by-step information on how to review Trending topics.


● The editorial team is responsible for accepting all topics that reflect real-world events. We provide context to help people understand the trend and metadata to inform the algorithms that target trends.

● The topic detection team is responsible for surfacing pending topics and ranking them after they’re accepted.

● The content ranking team is responsible for delivering high-quality, relevant topic feeds once the topic is accepted.


A real-world event is something that happened recently, is happening now or will happen in the future.

It’s intentionally broad so that we can be inclusive of a wide range of interests. Over time, we’ve streamlined our workflow to ensure we’re accepting all of the topics that meet our real-world event criteria. We bias toward accepting a topic unless it meets one of these criteria for blacklisting:

● Doesn’t represent real-world event (a.k.a. junk topic) — We cannot find any correlation to a real-world event.

● Duplicate topic — The topic represents a real-world event that is already live (either in the same scope or another scope).

○ Ex. We accepted “NBA Finals” and we blacklisted “#NBAFinals” and “NBA Championships.”

When there are multiple topics that represent an event, choose the most logical topic to be the primary topic. Use a custom topic name if the existing topic name is too generic or confusing.

It’s OK to accept secondary topics, as long as they meet their own “real-world event” criteria.

● Examples: Qualifying secondary topics:

○ Tom Hanks - Actor Calls for Equality in Oscars Red Carpet Interview

○ LeBron James - Cavaliers Forward Scores 40 Points in Game 2 of NBA Finals

● Examples: Non-qualifying secondary topic:

○ Tom Hanks - Actor Attends the Oscars

○ LeBron James - Cavaliers Forward Plays in Game 2 of NBA Finals


● If you’re concerned about the quality of the feed, accept the topic and alert your copy editor to set a reminder to check back on the feed in 30 minutes.

○ If it hasn’t improved after 30 minutes, report the issue via the bug nub icon.

○ If it hasn’t improved after 60 minutes, post the task # and details in Trending Feedback and CC Li-Tal, Hetu and/or the content ranking on-call.

Review Process

1. In the review tool, start by checking all Live topics in the scope to which you’ve been assigned by the copy editor leading the shift (these were accepted at some point by a past reviewer).

● Get a good understanding of what’s trending, including any live events that may need an immediate update (sports, awards shows, TV shows, etc.)

● Events that are likely to need an update will also be listed on the Update Watch section of our Quip log, but this section is not always exhaustive because it’s hard to predict all the topics that will need to be updated

2. Check the Trending Demo tool to see if there are any newsworthy topics that aren’t showing up in the review tool (either because they were previously blacklisted or because of a bug).

3. Go through all scopes in Pending, accepting and blacklisting topics.

● Start with the U.S. scope and work from the top down. Pending organic topics are prioritized automatically with the highest scored topics at the top of the queue in green.

○ Organic topics are detected by Facebook’s Trending algorithm when the topic has been mentioned on Facebook significantly more than its normal level of buzz.

○ Topics marked “(External)” are detected by crawling RSS feeds of headlines from top news sites. External topics are always listed at the bottom of the pending queues in each scope.

○ Topics marked “(Social)” are detected through response (likes, comments and shares) to Facebook posts about or by the topic. Social topics will be listed among organic topics.

● Open the topic feed in the review tool and evaluate whether the topic is tied to a real-world event. Cross-reference Google News and other news sources when necessary. The pending topic feed does not have to reflect the real-world event before acceptance.

○ If the topic does not reflect a real-world event, blacklist it by hovering over the topic name and clicking “remove.” The topic will be sent to the blacklist history and can be retrieved if necessary (see “Blacklisting Items” below).

If the topic reflects a real-world event, begin the acceptance process:

Overview of Process

● Consider custom topic name

● Write description

● Write summary

● Choose featured URL

● Choose Getty image and Facebook native video (if available)

● Fill in relevant metadata fields, all of which are detailed below

● Submit to copy editor for approval and make any necessary or suggested edits

● Accept topic

Step-by-Step Process

1. Consider whether the topic would be easier to understand with a custom topic name.

We will write a custom topic name for acceptable topics when doing so will:

● Make it easier for users to understand what the topic is about;

● Better describe the topic;

● Improve the aesthetic of the topic;

● Balance two sides of a topic (i.e. sports games).


Do not use the custom topic feature to replace hashtag topics. Do use the custom topic feature to make hashtags upstyle (Example: # teacherappreciationweek becomes #TeacherAppreciationWeek but not Teacher Appreciation Week).

● Hashtags are verbatim phrases that trend. Altering them would be changing the organic composition of the trend. Hashtags are different than topics, which are inherently more subjective because they’ve been generated by the topic tagger (which has its own limitations). When faced with the choice between a hashtag and a normal topic that are both appearing organically (Example: Star Wars Day vs. # MayThe4thBeWithYou ), choose the one that will give the best user experience and enable the clearest understanding of what the topic is about. Exception: If a #TeamName topic is the only available topic for a sports game, we should still follow our guidance (detailed below, too): Pick the organic topic with the best feed and re-write the topic name to include both teams. Our preferred style is Team vs. Team.


These are some types of trends that we’ll write custom topic names for:

● Wrong/Confusing Topic: Re-write topic names that are legitimately trending, but with offtopic names.

○ Example: Original topic name/description: Nick Clegg - Deputy Prime Minister Featured With Other UK Party Leaders in New Spoof Video

○ Re-written topic name/description: Green Party — UK Group Releases Spoof Video Portraying Other Party Leaders as Boy Band

● Long Topic Name: Re-write topic names that are long or awkwardly formal.

○ Example: Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival → Coachella

● Locations: Re-write a location topic when the location is not the main focus of the trend.

○ Example:

■ Original topic name/description:

Ashton, Illinois: 1 Person Killed and Wide Damage Reported After Tornado Hits Northern Illinois

■ Re-written topic name/description:

Illinois Tornado: 1 Person Killed and Wide Damage Reported in Northern Part of State

● Sports Games: Re-write the topic name to include both teams. Our preferred style is Team vs Team.

● We should only re-write sports game topics if there are no Gametime or “vs” hashtag topics.

○ Example:

■ Original topic name/description: Philadelphia Phillies: Team to Face Boston Red Sox in Season Opener at Citizens Bank Park

■ Re-written topic name/description: Boston Red Sox vs Philadelphia Phillies: Teams Open Season at Citizens Bank Park

○ U.S. Sports

■ Aim to include the teams’ locations and nicknames in the topic name. Use just the teams’ nicknames if you require space to include important information in the description.

■ For US sports, put the home team’s name second

□ Boston Red Sox vs. Philadelphia Phillies: Teams Open Season at Citizens Bank Park

□ Yankees vs. Red Sox: Teams Begin Series at Fenway Park With 1st Place in AL East at Stake

■ After the game, change the topic name to the winning team if it makes sense to do so.

□ If the original topic is the losing team, check demo to make sure the winning team isn’t trending organically

□ Pregame: New York Yankees changed to New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox.

□ If the Red Sox win, check demo to see if Red Sox is there. If so, and their ranking is comparable in demo (meaning the winning team is ranked higher or close to as high as the losing team), switch to the winning team.

□ If not, keep both teams as the topic or switch back to the losing team if the loss was consequential.

□ New York Yankees vs Boston Red Sox: Boston Takes Over 1st Place in AL East With 3-2 Win

□ New York Yankees: Team Eliminated From Playoff Contention With 3-2 Loss to Boston Red Sox

■ For domestic soccer clubs (MLS), leave FC (description) and F.C. (summaries) in the name of the club.

□ Ex. New York City FC, Toronto FC, FC Dallas etc.

○ International Sports

■ Aim to refer to teams in topic names as they’re referred to in news stories on first reference rather than the sometimes long and cumbersome official full team names that are rarely used. Similarly, take cues for second reference from news stories about the game. Here’s a running list of common examples:

□ Premier League clubs (Don’t use FC or F.C., and don’t use United except for Manchester United):

□ Tottenham Hotspur F.C. = Tottenham

□ West Ham United F.C. = West Ham

□ Queens Park Rangers FC = Queens Park Rangers (Can be QPR on second reference or if absolutely necessary in the topic name)

□ Newcastle United = Newcastle

□ West Bromwich Albion = West Brom

□ Manchester City = Manchester City (Can be Man City on second reference if absolutely necessary, but try to avoid)

□ Stoke City = Stoke City (Can be Stoke on second reference)

□ Swansea City = Swansea City (Can be Swansea on second reference)

□ Hull City = Hull City (Can be Hull on second reference)

□ Leicester City = Leicester City (Can be Leicester on second reference)

□ Example: Organic topic = Chelsea FC. Changed to Chelsea vs Stoke City (for before and during match)

□ Chelsea vs Stoke City: Clubs Meet for Premier League Match at Stamford Bridge

□ SUMMARY: Chelsea enter Saturday’s Premier League schedule six points ahead of Manchester City for the top spot. The Blues will be looking to add to that lead with a win over visiting Stoke.

□ Other international soccer clubs (Don’t use FC or F.C., and don’t use years in team names. Example: FC Schalke 04 = Schalke)

□ Paris Saint-Germain = Paris Saint-Germain (Can be PSG on second reference)

□ Bayern Munich = Bayern Munich (Can be Bayern on second reference)

□ Bayer 04 Leverkusen = Bayer Leverkusen (Both Bayer and Leverkusen can possibly work on second reference. Check what other news outlets are doing)

● Ongoing News Events: Write a custom topic name for breaking or planned news events that are expected to persist for several days.

○ Examples:

■ North Charleston, South Carolina → South Carolina Police Shooting

■ Germanwings → Germanwings Plane Crash

● Topics that aren’t upstyle: For consistency’s sake, all topics should follow our upstyle guidelines.

If a custom topic name is warranted:

1. Type the new name into the Custom Topic Name field.

a. Custom topic names should follow our upstyle guidance.

b. There is no character limit, but they should not exceed the first line of the RHC display.

2. Consult with a Copy Editor for guidance on re-writing sensitive or controversial topics.

a. Examples: Disasters/terrorist attacks, police shootings, political/social issues.

3. Be sure to note the custom topic when you submit the topic for Copy Editor approval.

4. Log the Custom Topic Name in the Descriptions/Summaries archive Quip doc.

a. Format:

Organic topic: Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

(US) Coachella: 1st Weekend of Annual Festival Kicks Off in California (entertainment)

SUMMARY: Launched in 1999, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Southern California takes place over two weekends in April. Headliners this year include AC/DC, Jack White and Drake.

2. Write a custom description, between 80-90 characters, that adheres to the following guidelines:

● Write the description up style, capitalizing the first letter of all major words, per Facebook Content Standards.

○ Always capitalize the first and last words of a description.

○ Capitalize all words of four letters or longer (With, Into, From).

○ Don’t capitalize prepositions (to, on, by) shorter than four letters long.

○ Don’t capitalize articles (a, an, the, of ) or coordinating conjunctions (and, or, to) unless these are the first or last words.

○ Always capitalize all forms of ”to be,” even if they’re fewer than 4 letters (is, are, was, were, am).

○ Capitalize: No, Nor, Not, Off, Out, So, Up, Is, Be, Per

○ Capitalize both parts of hyphenates (Cease-Fire, Sit-In)

○ Capitalize “little” prepositions that turn into adverbs: Mayor Drops In, Meeting Drones On

○ Don’t capitalize: a, as, and, at, but, by, for, if, in, of, on, or, the, to, vs, via, en (en Route),v. (legal context)

● Aim to write in the active voice and present tense whenever possible.

● Follow our style guidelines.

● Write for a general, PG-13 audience. Don’t assume familiarity with subject matter.

● Distinguish between actual events and reports/rumors. Attribute as needed.

● Do not copy another outlet’s headline. For legal reasons, all of our descriptions need to be original.

● To the best of our ability, fact check to make sure that our descriptions are accurate and not speculative. Avoid defamatory allegations.

● Avoid puns, innuendo and cliches.

● Spoilers: Avoid all spoilers in descriptions for scripted series (and similar shows). Avoid spoilers in descriptions for live shows until they’ve finished airing in all markets, US and overseas.

3. Write a custom summary, between 170 and 200 characters, that complements the description and adheres to the following guidelines:

● Write a summary in sentence style that clearly and succinctly explains why a topic is trending.

● Don’t repeat information included in the description. Try to avoid repeating the topic name, too.

● Follow our style guidelines (with Facebook, then AP style as a backup), but don’t use description-exceptions for punctuation, abbreviations, etc.

○ Ex. “US” in descriptions; “U.S.” in summaries

● Follow AP guidance on numerals. Some highlights:

○ Spell out numbers and ordinals under 10.

○ Use figures for 10 or above and whenever preceding a unit of measure or referring to ages of people, animals, events or things. Spell out when they start a sentence.

○ Spell out in indefinite and casual uses (ex. Thanks a million. He walked a quarter of a mile.)

● ATTRIBUTION: These summaries should reflect what is known to be fact whenever possible.

The information you write needs to be corroborated by reporting from at least three Media 1K outlets. Whenever possible, avoid information that’s on the periphery of a story. Stick to the core gist.

Follow these attribution guidelines:

○ Do not include attribution if the information is being reported independently by more than 3 Media1K outlets (not reblogging off of one report) and/or is widely known/ accepted information.

■ Ex. “Frozen 2” - A ‘Frozen’ sequel was announced during Disney’s annual shareholders meeting.

○ Attribute to an original source when a trend is related to exclusive or original reporting.

In summaries, use “reported” for news events without ongoing coverage. Use “reports” for coverage of events that are still unfolding.

■ Ex. “1 Police Plaza” - The NYPD network was used to edit Wikipedia entries on Eric Garner and others, Capital New York reported Tuesday.

■ Ex. “Chris Culliver” – The Washington Redskins will sign the cornerback to a 4- year contract, NFL Media reports.

4. Select a featured URL:

1. After writing a unique keyword for a topic, click “Get URL Suggestions” to populate links in the featured URL field.

2. Click “Preview” to generate a preview of the headline for the first link.

a. If the article source and headline meet the criteria outlined below, continue with curation as normal.

b. If the article source and/or headline do not meet the criteria for curation, preview the next suggested URL.

Continue this process until you find a suitable URL. If no suggested URLs meet the curation guidelines, please manually enter the best URL.

Use the following criteria to evaluate the URL:

● Exclusive source of the original report (if applicable)

● Headline clearly and accurately explains the story; and

● Is not vague, intentionally misleading or clickbait

● Does not contain profanity or offensive language

● Does not contain spelling, grammar or other issues

● Is not biased or sensational

● Formats well (no strange characters or spacing)

5. Add native video, if available.

We should curate native video in context modules for every topic unless no usable video is available.

To include native video, enter the video’s ID number into the “Video” field in the review tool and hit the preview button to make sure it formats properly. Curators should take the following steps to identify qualified videos:

1. Scan the feed in the review tool: Native video will sometimes be embedded in posts surfaced in the topic feed within the tool.

2. Search accounts involved in the story: When possible, we should use primary source video.

Quickly search the accounts involved in the story for related video.

3. Search for related video via post search: Quickly search related keywords for native video from other accounts.

4. Use Trending Video Demo: This tool (https://our.intern.facebook.com/intern/pubcontent/ trending/video?__mref=message_bubble&hc_location=ufi) surfaces the most talked about videos on Facebook. Search keywords related to the topic for usable video.

Guidelines for video inclusion:

● Our preference is to prioritize primary-source video over secondary-source video.

● If no primary source video is available, it is acceptable to use native video from a news organization or another account as long as the video does not contain copyrighted material.

● When curating video from news organizations, our preference is to usevideo of the news event itself, rather than coverage or commentary of the news event.

● When no video of the news event exists, it is acceptable to use video coverage from news outlets.

Use the following guidelines to select the most vital video:

○ Video must be unbiased, objective coverage

○ Video must be free of editorializing

○ Video must be from a credible outlet

○ When the topic is local, use video from local/regional outlets

○ Whenever possible, use video from outlets who offer exclusive/original reporting rather than aggregation

● If multiple videos qualify based on the above guidelines, use the video with the highest view count as a tiebreaker.

● Curate a native video from a profile when:

○ A topic is trending because of the video the person posted on Facebook;

○ A topic is trending because a video was shared on Facebook AND another platform (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo);

○ The topic that is trending references a video AND the primary source shares the video natively on their Facebook profile.

● In addition to using the native video in the context module, also curate the video post for Involved in the Story to ensure it is visible and highly ranked on the SERP.

● Native Facebook videos in the context module are limited to posts from pages and public profiles (e.g. profiles with “Follow” turned on). For public profiles, we need to confirm the individual native video post has been shared publicly.

6. Choose the topic’s importance level:

Normal: This is the default importance for almost every topic. National Story: You should mark a topic as “National Story” importance if it is among the 1-3 top stories of the day. We measure this by checking if it is leading at least 5 of the following 10 news websites: BBC News, CNN, Fox News, The Guardian, NBC News, The New York Times, USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Yahoo News or Yahoo. Some days, we may not have any “Top Story”-level topics.

Major Story: You should mark a topic as “Major Story” importance if it is THE top story of the day.

We measure this by checking if it is leading all 10 of the above news websites. These stories appear approximately 5-7 times each week.

Examples: Gunmen kill 12 at Paris satirical newspaper; Ferguson police officer not charged by grand jury.

Nuclear: Reserved for the truly “Holy S**t” stories that happen maybe 1-3 times a year. Leading all 10 websites AND requires editor approval before marking as “nuclear.” Extreme examples are 9/11; major country’s president is shot; Russia declares war with Ukraine, etc. A team lead must approve before a topic can be marked Nuclear.

Notes on Importance Level Duration:

A topic remains in Top Story/Major Story/Nuclear state until the topic drops from trending, is blacklisted, or is manually downgraded to ’Normal’ state by a curator or copy editor.

Copy Editors usually take responsibility for adding and removing importance levels for topics during their shifts, but any trending curator can/should do when applicable.

7. Add the Topic Place (when applicable)

When a topic name, description or summary includes a location, add that information to the Topic Places field.

We want to be as specific as the topic name/description/summary. When you start typing, the location should come up automatically in the dropdown for you to select. If the specific place isn’t available, go up a level.

● Example: Elmont, NY (specific place) → Nassau County, NY (county)→ New York (state)

If there are multiple locations included in a topic name/description/summary, include them all.

Exceptions: Don’t include a location for topics, like sports teams, that include a location in their name, unless a more granular location is also included in the description or summary. Don’t include a location for topics when the location is tangential to the story or included for background purposes.

● Example of “Yes, include Topic Place”

○ New York Yankees: Team’s Bronx, NY, Stadium Closed for 3 Days Due to Rodents Infestation

● Example of “No, don’t include Topic Place”

○ New York Yankees: Team Loses Season Opener to Toronto Blue Jays, 6-1

● Example of “No, don’t include Topic Place”

○ Happy Father’s Day: (Summary) Many countries around the world celebrate the day on the third Sunday in June. The first known observance of the day was July 5, 1908, in Fairmont, W.Va.

8. Select Related Topics (when applicable)

Our goal is to make explicit connections between topics that are related for ranking purposes. Scroll in the drop-down menu of the main review tool and select all of the related topics that are currently live.

We only want to connect topics that are directly related. We can connect them all regardless of parent-child relationship. Here are some examples:

● “E3,” “Star Wars: Battlefront” and “Star Ocean” are all trending. They should all be marked as related topics for each other because they’re all part of the same event (E3).

● “Donald Trump” and “The Apprentice” should be marked as related topics because they’re all connected to his presidential candidacy announcement.

● “Golden State Warriors,” “Cleveland Cavaliers” and “Andre Iguodala” should all be marked as related topics.

● “Golden State Warriors” should NOT be marked as a related topic to “New York Knicks,” which is about their coach being fired.

9. Write a unique keyword and related keywords

For every topic, in addition to writing the description and summary, write a 1-4 word keyword summary of what the trend is about and also add 1-3 related keywords.

Unique and related keywords should be lowercase and should avoid active verbs, articles, prepositions and punctuation. They do not require copy editor approval, though feel free to workshop if you’re feeling stuck.

Unique Keywords

● Unique keywords are now primarily used to inform feed ranking. Essentially, unique keywords help ensure the posts retrieved for the feed relate directly to the Trending topic. To make sure they’re as targeted as possible, follow these three basic rules.

1. No active verbs: The unique keyword should be a noun phrase. Example: matt harvey misses workout -> matt harvey workout Example: chantal akerman dies -> chantal akerman death

2. Limit common words: The unique keywords should be as keyword heavy as possible. Common words make it harder to retrieve posts that are specific to the Trending topic. Example: south carolina lsu game -> south carolina lsu Example: starbury sneakers relaunch -> starbury relaunch

3. Use the shortest query that you expect to return relevant results to the story: This basically overlaps with the other two points here. Keep unique keywords as tight as possible. Example: new microsoft surface products -> microsoft surface release

Related Keywords

● Related keywords are search phrases you would expect to bring up this news story now, but they are not unique for this specific trend.

● Aim for 1-3 related keywords per topic and do stay on topic. You do not need to repeat the topic name and there’s no need to add parent keywords.

○ For this year’s Academy Awards, they would be “oscars” and “academy awards.” We wouldn’t use “entertainment” or “movies.”

Here are some examples to hopefully clarify the difference between the unique keyword and the related keywords:

● Topic name: # NBAFinals

○ Unique keyword display: warriors cavaliers nba finals

○ Related keywords: ”steph curry” ”lebron james”

● Topic name: Iran

○ Unique keyword display: iran nuclear deal

○ Related keywords: “nuclear weapons” “john kerry” ”barack obama”

● Topic name: NASA

○ Unique keyword display: pluto flyby

○ Related keywords: “new horizons”

10. Search for a related photo.

The Editorial team will select a photo from Getty Images to illustrate the trending topic. Photos can be from the current news event or a related file/stock image. There will not be photo captions.

Photos will render horizontally in context modules and hovercards, but will also display as a square in the Search Null State.
Ideally, both crops will be great, but when necessary we should OPTIMIZE FOR THE SQUARE CROP IN THE NULL STATE DISPLAY. This locations is where we will primarily use visual cues to push users to search for news.

We must select a photo for EVERY Trending topic. If you can’t find a usable image, please escalate to a copy editor.

Photos need to be appropriate for a PG-13 audience. Avoid blood, dead bodies, nudity and grotesque imagery. If you’re unsure whether a photo is appropriate, get a second opinion from a copy editor.

1. Log in to Getty Images (http://www.gettyimages.com/). Search related key words to see if there’s a photo.

2. Choose a photo that best illustrates the trend. If there are choices, choose the photo with the simplest composition.

a. Use horizontal images when possible. They will be easier to crop.

b. It’s acceptable to use a file/stock photo, as long as it doesn’t misrepresent the current trend.

i. Example of misrepresenting the current trend: Barack Obama is trending because of comments he made about protests in Ferguson. We attach a file photo (without a caption to explain the context) that shows him attending a protest in Oakland two years ago.

3. Copy the “Editorial #” of the photo and paste it into the “Getty Photo search by ID” field in the review tool and click the “Search” button. A preview of the image should automatically render and the photo credit field should autofill.

4. Drag the red box up and down to crop/center the image. Preview the Context Module to make sure the crop looks good, but prioritize the composition in the center box. This will be the image displayed in the mobile Null State.

11. Choose the “Topic Category” that best fits the story.

Choose as many categories as apply to the topic and description. Treat the topic and description as a literal guide to the category tagging. Keep in mind that these categories guide and inform the ranker to help serve the most appropriate content to people. You can list multiple categories for a single topic, but keep in mind that the first category listed will be considered the topic’s primary category.

1. Other — Choose this in rare circumstance when topic doesn’t fall into any of the other categories.

2. Business — Topics related to financial markets, mergers & acquisitions, federal regulations, federal settlements related to the financial industry, real estate, personal finance, IPOs, prominent figures in business, economic indicators, media news, automotive industry, large-scale product recalls.

3. Politics — Topics related to governments, leaders, politicians, elections, legislation. Includes news involving politicians (a.k.a. DUIs, domestic cases, farming accidents). Includes protests against laws/policies.

4. Science — Topics related to space, weather, environment, climate change, scientific research/ discoveries, archaeology, animals.

5. Technology — Topics related to tech industry, personal devices/gadgets, tech companies (would likely also be tagged to business), notable figures in tech industry.

6. Health — Topics related to pharmaceuticals, health care industry, health policy (a.k.a. Obamacare), nutrition, fitness.

7. Disaster — Topics related to natural disasters (earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, hurricanes, etc.) and accidents that have impact; building explosions, traffic accidents, plane crashes, earthquakes, volcanoes, wildfires/fires not started by a person.

8. Crime — Topics related to alleged, convicted, exonerated crimes, criminal trials, appeals, death penalty. _Acts of war/terrorism should not be filed to crime._

9. Lifestyle — Topics related to fashion, home decor, cultural trends/memes, religion, parenting, weddings, holidays, “National Day” celebrations (a.k.a. National Coffee Day).

10. Celebrity — Topics about famous entertainment figures, socialites, royals. Does not include athletes.

11. Strange — Topics related to unusual records, odd stories that don’t fall into other categories.

12. Education — Topics related to all levels of education, education policy, teacher strikes, student walkouts, college rankings.

13. War/terrorism — Topics related to declared wars, prolonged fighting (a.k.a. Gaza), terror groups, acts of domestic/international terrorism that have been claimed/designated to be terrorism.

14. Sad/disturbing - Topics related to tragedies, violent crimes, crimes that target children, deaths of children or animals.

15. Local - Topics related to news stories/events that only impact people locally or regionally.

16. Gossip - Tabloid-ish topics that may also have low-credibility sources. Includes topics related to famous people’s birthdays, anniversaries of entertainment and lifestyle events. X-tag to other related categories.

17. Risqué - Topics related to sex, pornography, nudity, graphic violence, etc. Sub-categories:

● Sports/Other - Topics related to sports that don’t fall into other sub-categories

● Sports/Soccer - Topics related to soccer

● Sports/Cricket - Topics related to cricket

● Sports/Basketball - Topics related to basketball

● Sports/Hockey - Topics related to hockeyd

● Sports/Football - Topics related to American football

● Sports/Baseball - Topics related to baseball

● Sports/Fighting - Topics related to fighting (MMA, WWE, etc.)

● Sports/Tennis - Topics related to tennis

● Entertainment/Other - Topics related to entertainment that don’t fall into other sub-categories

● Entertainment/Tv - Topics related to television

● Entertainment/Cinema - Topics related to movies, film industry

● Entertainment/Music - Topics related to music

● Entertainment/Art - Topics related to arts (live performances (dance/orchestras), museums, literature, art (artists, auctions)

● Entertainment/Gaming - Topics related to video games

12. Add relevant interests in the Manual Interest field:

This is a way to further target topics to the people who would find them most interesting. Interest tags tend to be much more granular than categories. The list of interests is definitely not exhaustive, but it has many options that will help improve ranking of topics. The entry field is a typeahead, which means when you start to type a word, the field will present you with options. Example: The topic #DemDebate has relevant interests such as Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Liberal Politics, Climate Change and others.

13. Do an immediate In the Story pass for the following types of topics:

a. Topics with clear subjects

i. Example - Shirley Manson: Garbage lead singer criticizes Kanye West’s comments on Beck, Grammys (Check to see if Manson posted any of this criticism on Facebook)

b. Topics marked National, Major or Nuclear importance

c. Topics that reference Facebook posts in the description or summary

i. Example - America’s Next Top Model: Tyra Banks’ Reality Series to End With Series Finale on Dec. 4, CW Confirms

SUMMARY: ”Thinking #ANTM #cycle22 should be our last cycle. Yeah, I truly believe it’s time,” Banks wrote in a Facebook post announcing the series end. The show debuted in 2006.

For topics that meet our criteria:

a. Spend 1-3 minutes searching for obvious In the Story candidates. Manually add them in the main Trending review tool. Make sure to save with “Accept all actions.”

b. Calibrate time spent against the ITS curation guidelines.

14. Once you’ve completed steps 1-12, click “Accept for 24 hours” and it will go live.

Blacklisting Items

We blacklist topics from the review tool for two reasons:

1. Doesn’t represent a real-world event (a.k.a. junk topic) — We cannot find any correlation to a real-world event.

2. Duplicate topic — The topic represents a real-world event that is already live (either in the same scope or another scope).

a. Ex. We accepted “NBA Finals” and we blacklisted “#NBAFinals” and “NBA Championships.”

When a topic is blacklisted, it is banned from appearing in the review tool for the length of time the timer was set.

Guidelines for blacklist timers

Our bias is to blacklist topics for the maximum of 24 hours in almost all cases. This ensures that the queues stay uncluttered and we’re not wasting time re-blacklisting topics from shift to shift. However, there are some cases where a shorter timer makes sense:

● 3 hours/8 hours: Use this for topics that are currently duplicate topics but may emerge as qualified secondary topics.
Example: Lebron James is in pending before the start of the Cavaliers game, but he hasn’t done anything yet to qualify as a real-world event. We want to put him on a short timer, to make sure we re-review after the real-world event has begun.

● 24 hours: Use this for junk topics that we’re fairly confident will not be related to a trend.

Example: Sandwich wraps; D’oh!; Reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance; Age of Enlightenment Blacklisted topics reappear in the pending queue when their timer expires. These topics will appear with a strikethrough.

How To Find Topic IDs

When you click on the topic, the string of numbers at the end of the URL is the Topic ID.

https://www.intern.facebook.com/topic/U ... 7062136994 To find the ID for a hashtag (for manual injection), follow a different process than grabbing the ID for a non-hashtag topic.

1. Copy the hashtag.

2. Go into bunnylol’s ID search by typing “id” in your browser bar

3. Type the hashtag into the search field (Example: #NYTimes)

4. You’ll land on a page that reflects the entity id (ex. EntHashtag: 5320592387234) that string of numbers is your hashtag ID.

Injecting Topics

1. The editorial team CAN inject a topic to replace another topic(s) already appearing in the review tool (in the same scope) to consolidate a story/clean-up appearances.

Ex.: We inject #Odile to replace ”Baja Peninsula” and ”Cabo San Lucas.” We inject ”ISIS” to replace ”Flames of War.”

2. The editorial team CAN inject a newsworthy topic that is not appearing in the review tool but is appearing in the demo tool (in the corresponding scope).

3. The editorial team CANNOT inject a newsworthy topic if it is not appearing in the demo or review tools. We will track these instances so the engineers can fix for the future.

How to Inject a Topic:

1. Get the topic’s object ID, which is the long number at the end of the topic’s feed URL. Either open the feed from the review tool (if it is showing in a different scope, perhaps), or, if it isn’t in the review tool, you can go to the Demo tool and search for it as a “co-related topic.”

2. Make sure to check the blacklist before injecting in case the topic was removed earlier

3. Once you have the ID, you use the Manual Trend Curation tool > Trend Injector.

4. In the first box, paste the ID number.

5. In the second box, select the appropriate scope(s).

6. Select the injection time (always select 12 hours, which is the default) and the priority (always select normal).

7. Hit the inject button. The topic should show up within 5 minutes.

Handover Email Workflow

Shifts ending at 8 a.m., 4 p.m. and 12 a.m. need to send a single handover email to the Trending editorial team (trending-edit@fb.com):

Your handover should follow this template. The goal of this note is to convey any relevant information to the people on the next shift to make sure they’re able to seamlessly continue any work that you may have started but were not able to see through to the end.

On-Call Procedures

See the Escalating Problems with Trending, In the Story file in the Trending Editorial Team group.

Tools We Use

● Review tool (primary): https://our.intern.facebook.com/intern/ ... /trending/ review_tool

● Demo tool (secondary): https://our.intern.facebook.com/intern/ ... t/trending

● Trending Ranker (secondary): https://our.intern.facebook.com/intern/trending/ranker

● Topic Tagger (Locate ID numbers for topics): https://our.intern.facebook.com/intern/ topictagger/

● Single Review Tool (In the Story curation): https://our.intern.facebook.com/intern/review/ ?advanced_tab=false&search_all_teams=false&search_name=trending_news&teams[0]=536795586403378&teams[Review Tool At a Glance:

● Green means something new has happened that we need to check - either a new topic or possibly a new description is needed.

● Blue means that the topic has recently been reviewed and/or no new description suggestions have surged.

● Scopes: US (country), IN (country), GB (country), CA (country), AU (country) Demo Tool At a Glance:

● This tool reflects all topics that are trending based on chatter on Facebook.

● Blacklisted topics are reflected here as well as topics in Pending and Live.

● To check all scopes:

● Toggle between scopes by adjusting the drop down menu that says “Trend by Locale”

● If you see a topic that isn’t in the trending review tool but should be (based on policy), investigate:

● Review the feed – possibly blacklisted based on a poor quality feed that could have since improved

● If you see a high quality topic and feed that is compliant with policy:

● Paste the topic ID in the “un-blacklister” tab under “Manual Trend Curator” and hit “Unblacklist topic IDs.”
Ranker Tool At a Glance:

Personalized for each user – provides a customized overview of the data Facebook has consolidated about your likes/dislikes in order to display the 10 trending topics that it perceives as most appealing to you.



These are the detailed guidelines the Facebook news team uses to achieve its goal. We need to maintain a certain number of trends in each scope for the product to perform optimally.

With fewer topics, the personalized ranking of Trending topics doesn’t work, and everyone sees the same set of topics. Having more trends has proven to increase the CTR (click through rate) and participation rate.

Here are the baselines (we CANNOT have fewer than these numbers):

● US: >= 60 accepted trends (target: 80)

● GB: >= 36 accepted trends (target: at least 50)

● IN: >= 20 accepted trends (target: at least 25)

● AU: >= 24 accepted trends (target: at least 30)

● CA: >= 36 accepted trends (target: at least 50)
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Re: Facebook news selection is in hands of editors not algor

Postby admin » Fri Nov 11, 2016 1:36 am

Facebook and YouTube Show Frantic Allegiance to Clinton: Zuckerberg claims no bias in Facebook 'trending topics'—but latest censorship of Clinton’s health suggests otherwise
by Liz Crokin



For months the mainstream media has not only gone to great lengths to cover up Hillary Clinton’s health problems, they’ve launched calculated and vicious attacks against anyone who has dared to raise questions about the Democratic presidential nominee’s health. Members of the media bullied all—including Donald Trump, independent doctors, politicians, reporters and pundits—who expressed legitimate concerns about Clinton’s health. They were accused of sexism, called all kinds of nasty names and multiple people even lost their jobs for speaking ill of their anointed queen.

Now, in a stunning new video, Clinton was seen collapsing into the arms of her Secret Service detail after leaving a 9/11 memorial earlier than planned on Sunday. Despite the indisputable footage, incredibly, some media outlets such as Facebook, YouTube and voices from some of the big networks are showing just how deep their allegiance to Clinton truly is by frantically continuing to cover up her health crisis up to and even after her campaign officially announced that she had been diagnosed with pneumonia two days prior.

It was a day the news cycles and social media forums should’ve been flooded with remembrance stories revolving around the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Instead, the entire internet blew up over Clinton’s health after a video of her collapsing surfaced and spread like wildfire. There were a few exceptions, though, and there appears to be major damage control taking place by some in the liberal media.

After Fox News first broke the story and aired the troubling video, other news sources that had previously censored any indication of Clinton’s frail health were forced to finally cover the story. Remarkably, in a play straight out of George Orwell’s “1984,” Facebook continued to censor Clinton’s collapse Sunday evening even though the story was trending on Twitter and the lead story on most major news sites. Other major media outlets have followed suit by refusing to air the jaw-dropping video and YouTube has actively taken down several videos of the incident.

Around 5 p.m. EST, the hashtag “Hillary’s health” (#hillaryshealth) was trending on Twitter and was the top story on Apple news and most major news sites. However, nothing about Clinton was trending on Facebook even though Facebook’s own numbers showed that it should’ve been trending.

#HillarysHealth as presented by Twitter (the number seven trending story) and Facebook (not trending at all). Screenshots: Twitter and Facebook

For example, at that time “Flight 93” was trending and Facebook displayed that 1K people were talking about that topic. However, a search for “Hillary’s health” revealed that almost 100K people were talking about that on Facebook, yet the topic wasn’t trending. More than 50,000-plus people were talking about “Hillary faint” and that topic wasn’t trending, either.

Facebook has a history of censoring conservative voices and any content that is critical of Clinton. Even though Facebook spokespeople have claimed the company doesn’t change their algorithms to favor any candidate, the evidence is hard to dispute.

Facebook’s co-founder, Dustin Muskovitz, announced last week that he was donating $20 million to Democratic groups backing Clinton to help her defeat Trump. This, of course, in addition to several former Facebook employees admitting they were instructed to suppress stories of interest to conservative readers from their “trending” section and substitute them with “selected stories” even if they weren’t trending or popular enough to warrant inclusion in that section. In response, Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg and his team met with a group of conservatives, claiming it would be difficult to inject bias into their “trending topics” section. However, the latest censorship of Clinton’s health suggests otherwise.

Clinton’s health issue bled into the mainstream media after a wildly popular video posted on Alex Jones’ InfoWars network received several million views. Clinton has repeatedly denied having any health problems and lashed out at Jones and other media outlets during a speech on August 25, accusing them of being part of an “alt-right” conspiracy against her.

Even though the footage of Clinton collapsing has been blasted all over the media, YouTube has removed some of the videos owned by InfoWars. In a video posted Sunday night, Jones said he’s had multiple copyright claims on his YouTube channels and he expects to be shut down. He added that he’s ready to file a lawsuit against these “false copyright claims.” A lot of the major networks aren’t running the footage of Clinton collapsing—opting, instead, to downplay her medical episode, Jones said.

On Sunday, many scrambled to cover Clinton’s tracks. An MSNBC host brushed off Clinton’s episode by stating that she left the memorial early to “be polite,” while a doctor on the network stated that it looks like “she could’ve just lost her balance.” Others claimed that, despite the video, there’s no proof that she fainted—only evidence that she was helped into a van. One CNN pundit stuck with the conspiracy theory defense, and another MSNBC host used Twitter to mock coverage of Clinton’s health.

The left has gone out of its way to intimidate and ridicule anyone who dares to question Clinton’s health despite the fact that she’s vying for the highest office in the land. Sarah Silverman said anyone who questions Clinton’s health is an “asshole.” The Washington Post called questions about Clinton’s health raised by Donald Trump and Sean Hannity “sickening” and “repulsive.” And an article on CNN claimed reports of Clinton’s health were a “lie,” and just a bunch of “conspiracy theories” based off “junk science.”

One has to wonder how long the media can praise an emperor’s new clothes before eventually noticing she’s wearing nothing at all.

Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Observer Media.

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Re: Facebook news selection is in hands of editors not algor

Postby admin » Fri Nov 11, 2016 1:50 am

https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/em ... pAd9AfGAf6

This email has also been verified by Facebook DKIM 1024-bit RSA key

RE: in case you have time

To: john.podesta@gmail.com
CC: elliot@fb.com
Date: 2015-08-04 00:16
Subject: RE: in case you have time

Sheryl – thank you for the intro, to bcc for scheduling.

Hi John,

If 4-5pm Thursday afternoon on our campus in Menlo Park would work for you, that also works great for Mark.

Please let me know and I can send the specifics over.

My best,


From: Sheryl Sandberg
Sent: Monday, August 3, 2015 4:52 PM
To: John Podesta <john.podesta@gmail.com>
Cc: Andrea Besmehn <dre@fb.com>; Elliot Schrage <elliot@fb.com>
Subject: RE: in case you have time

We would love to make it work for this trip or another. Andrea here to coordinate with you.

From: John Podesta [mailto:john.podesta@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, August 03, 2015 4:33 PM
To: Sheryl Sandberg
Subject: Re: in case you have time


Happy to do. My schedule is a little squeezed on this trip probably my best times are Wednesday evening or late afternoon Thursday, but I'm back often and could get on his schedule in a more reasonable way. Looking forward to seeing you.


On Monday, August 3, 2015, Sheryl Sandberg

 <sheryl@fb.com<mailto:sheryl@fb.com>> wrote:


I hope you are well – thinking of all of you often and following every move!

I can’t imagine you have any free time at all, but in case you do on this trip to the Bay area or another, wondering if you would be willing to spend some time with Mark Zuckerberg.  

Mark is meeting with people to learn more about next steps for his philanthropy and social action and it’s hard to imagine someone better placed or more experienced than you to help him. As you may know, he’s young and hungry to learn — always in learning mode — and is early in his career when it comes to his philanthropic efforts. He’s begun to think about whether/how he might want to shape advocacy efforts to support his philanthropic priorities and is particularly interested in meeting people who could help him understand how to move the needle on the specific public policy issues he cares most about. He wants to meet folks who can inform his understanding about effective political operations to advance public policy goals on social oriented objectives (like immigration, education or basic scientific research).

In case you have time on any trip, Andrea can schedule. And if it has to wait until after the campaign, we will all understand.

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Re: Facebook news selection is in hands of editors not algor

Postby admin » Tue Dec 13, 2016 7:40 am

Facebook Suppresses Truth
by Craig Murray
11 Dec, 2016



So far 564 people believe they have shared on Facebook my article conclusively refuting the CIA’s invention of lies about Russia hacking the DNC, using the share button on this site. Another 78 have tried to share it from my Facebook page. Between them those 650 people will have, according to the Facebook average, about 200,000 friends. The total amount of incoming traffic from these 200,000 friends? 22 people. Almost nobody can currently reach this site through Facebook, as the “came from” interface on my statcounter below shows. Nothing from Facebook. Facebook are actively colluding in preventing social media from contradicting the mainstream media lies about Russian involvement in the US election campaign.

Don’t believe me? If you think you shared the article on Facebook, phone one of your Facebook friends and ask if it appeared for them.

The only way to defeat this is to republish the article yourself. I waive any copyright. If you have access to a blog, copy and paste it there and post a link to that blog on Facebook. Or simply cut and paste my whole article and copy it to your Facebook page, in sections if required.

I am similarly ghost banned on twitter. The work round to this, which plenty of people have found, is to create a new tweet yourself with a link to my site, rather than retweet one of my tweets. As with the Facebook share, if you do retweet you will be unaware it doesn’t work.

There are profound implications for society in the compliance of the major social media corporations with establishment demands to prevent social media from effectively challenging the mainstream media narrative – and I cannot think of a more classic example than this case. I do urge you to take action as described above, to show that the people will not stand for it.


Calling Facebook out worked, we have just been unblocked! If you contrast this new came from log with the above, you will immediately see the difference – and just how important social media is to a dissident website like this one.
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Re: Facebook news selection is in hands of editors not algor

Postby admin » Tue Dec 13, 2016 8:00 am

Twitter and Facebook Censorship and Mainstream Media Denial
by Craig Murray
8 Dec, 2016



I had never heard of ghost banning until I was ghost banned by twitter. That of course is the idea – they censor you without realising you are censored. People no longer get notifications when I post, and the tweet only turns up in the twitter line of followers who happen to be logged in at the time my tweet goes out. Those logging in later will no longer see tweets I issued while they were away. Most of my tweets no longer show up on twitter searches, and further restrictions are applied when people retweet my tweets.

Since ghost banning, traffic to this website from twitter has fallen 90%.

As twitter do not inform you that you have been ghost banned, it is hard to know exactly what prompted it, but I believe it immediately followed this tweet.

Craig Murray @CraigMurrayorg Nov 4

Just confirmed direct with #WikiLeaks the Podesta #spiritcooking thing really is genuine. I honestly thought somebody must be hoaxing. Weird.

For anyone who gets their news through the mainstream media, the spirit cooking scandal referred to performance art by Marina Abramovic, to an intimate domestic display of which Clinton campaign chairman and paid Saudi lobbyist John Podesta was invited. The performance draws upon occult references and imagery – as an “artist” her inspiration appears to be early Hammer horror films. It involves painting with blood, milk and semen, presumably from animals. To add a frisson, Ms Abramovic has claimed it is art when performed in a gallery, but real when performed in a private home.

Personally, I view it as rubbish as art, and the sort of thing idiots with too much money pay for. I think the occult references give a frisson to the idle rich, like students playing with a Ouija board. Personally I believe that kind of thing is better avoided, but each to his own. What the Podesta emails undoubtedly show is that the rich are not like us. Just as David Cameron sticking his todger in the mouth of a dead pig was an upper class bonding ritual and not actual bestiality, I don’t actually think the Podestas are Satanists. Just weird.

But what is beyond doubt is that the #spiritcooking sensation on social media had a real effect on the US election, and in an election where the margins were so very close potentially an extremely important one. Tens of millions of people saw the images on social media. It galvanised evangelical Christians to vote for Trump and, perhaps much more crucially, it contributed materially to a massive depression of the African American vote for Hillary as millions of African American Christians, disgusted by seeing apparent endorsement of Abramovic’s voodoo and satanic references by the Clinton camp, sat at home and did not turn out to vote. That 2 million black Americans who voted for Obama did not vote for Hillary was not because they are racist – it was because they disliked Hillary for a number of reasons, and spirit cooking was a factor, especially as the famed Democratic machine is heavily reliant upon African American churches for the ground war. I should love to see the influence of the spirit cooking scandal measured, but given that the mainstream media who commission the polls are desperate to deny the effect of WikiLeaks on the election, they are not likely to measure it.

Instead what we have is the “post-truth” narrative. This holds that something is only true if the mainstream media says that it is. It is an easy trick to conflate a dozen ludicrous untrue stories released on social media, and then leap from there to saying everything on social media not endorsed by mainstream media is untrue. It is but a further step to argue that therefore social media must be censored. This is where we came in, with Twitter already doing this to me. Mark Zuckerberg has indicated that Facebook will take further action to prevent dissemination of “untrue” political information. Of course, they already do this, and again I am afraid to say in particular they do this to me. All my blog posts are posted to Facebook as well as twitter. Did you know when you share my post on Facebook, Facebook limits the number of your friends who can see it? In my case the limit is set to ensure that the percentage of incoming traffic to my site that comes through Facebook, is always precisely 5%. To do that, of course, they have to know precisely how much traffic is coming in to this site. Worrying, isn’t it? Before Facebook set the limitation -- around the same time as twitter -- the amount of incoming traffic from Facebook was around 30% of my traffic.

As with any grossly illiberal cause it is the Guardian which has led the charge for internet censorship in the UK. One hilarious recent Guardian article listed media bias towards Clinton as an example of a post-truth claim. The article did not mention the fact that senior CNN commentator Donna Brazile had been sacked by CNN after WikiLeaks revealed she had been feeding debate questions to Hillary Clinton in advance, nor Wikileaks’ numerous releases of emails detailing partisan collusion with the media to promote Hillary. It did not mention the deliberate and planned timing of primary elections and debates to disadvantage Sanders. In fact, it did not mention any of the inconvenient facts WikiLeaks had revealed. In that, it was absolutely typical mainstream media.

Mainstream media is not post-truth. It never had any connection to the truth.

To complete the chain of dishonesty, the trope of Russian interference in the election is getting a new airing. In a painfully obvious charade, Obama is being “pushed” by his own party to reveal security service information on “Russian interference” in the US election. The focus is particularly on the allegation that the Russian state hacked the Podesta and DNC emails and gave them to WikiLeaks.

The problem is there is no such evidence. There can’t be because both the DNC and Podesta emails were leaked by Washington insiders, to my certain knowledge. I repeat that, to my certain knowledge. Hillary’s pathetic election claim that the security services had information it was the Russians, depended on a statement that the leak was “consistent with Russian methods and objectives”. Look at that statement very carefully. It says “we have no evidence whatsoever, but the President has asked us to blame the Russians”. As I say, I know it wasn’t the Russians. The only “evidence” ever shown to me by those blaming the Russians is that an alleged hacker calling himself “Guccifer” sometimes uses Cyrillic. Which may or may not be true, but as “Guccifer” was neither the source of, nor a conduit for, the leaks it is utterly irrelevant.

Fear not. The truth is out there. People are trying to make it more difficult for you to find, but they will not succeed. In my own humble case, while visits from Facebook and Twitter are radically down, overall numbers are up. The internet somehow always finds a way to work around.

Update: You couldn’t make it up!
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