It’s been coming since January, when Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that new rules for political coverage would go into effect. And they did, creeping in slowly until last week, when a major shift took place.
News organizations like Must Read Alaska are now considered political entities by Facebook, and must provide photo identification to the company to prove that they are not Russia (or other nations) bots or bad actors. This process will take a few weeks to complete and is not guaranteed (Facebook has already rejected the identification (U.S. passport) of Suzanne Downing, editor, which was provided last week. It is in the appeal process).
In addition, regular news is being rejected by Facebook for “boosts,” which is how small news organizations get their material seen by more people — they pay a fee to Facebook to get wider distribution.
Here’s how it works in real life:
– Facebook blocked the paid distribution of the Must Read Alaska Memorial Day Events Calendar to Alaskans.
– Facebook blocked the paid distribution of the Must Read Alaska candidate and election deadline calendar, aimed at conservative Alaskans interested in politics.
– Facebook blocked the paid distribution of the nonpolitical column about the meaning of Memorial Day, written by Win Gruening.
– Facebook blocked a news story about Rep. Lora Reinbold filing for Senate. (MRAK did not attempt to boost a similar story about Dan Saddler filing for the seat, since it would clearly be rejected.)
– Facebook requires that all of this news is labeled “political advertising” rather than news.
Zuckerberg said Facebook would begin blocking political news and only include “trusted sources,” which will be determined in some way the Facebook community will not be privy to.
We’re now seeing exactly how that works: Suppression of some voices rather than others is the new Facebook reality. Content that is meaningful to some people with certain values and political leanings will be blocked.
Must Read Alaska enjoys strong support across the state and more than 150,000 views per month because we provide news that readers appreciate.
Action steps: Fortunately, Must Read Alaska also has a robust e-newsletter that goes to more than 11,000 Alaskans three times a week. You can sign up at the right side of this page, and get exclusive content, plus links to our latest stories. Continue to share our stories on Facebook as we up our game to overcome the Facebook bias.
Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.