Facebook’s ‘ideological bias’: China irked over labels on official pages

The Chinese government has accused Facebook of “ideological bias” after the social media giant announced plans to put warning labels on Chinese “state-controlled” media pages. Facebook has been lenient with the language of the labels applied to allies of the US and to US pages. Meanwhile, Trump's war on social media shows no signs of stopping.

ideological bias

The Chinese government has taken notice of Facebook’s “ideological bias” after the social media giant announced plans to put warning labels on Chinese “state-controlled” media pages including Xinhua and CCTV. China has accused Facebook of ‘ideological bias’ following this development.

This follows the United States’ official policy of exerting maximum pressure on China as the two countries find themselves embroiled in a diplomatic storm with a lot of political mudslinging.

Read more: Trump’s attack on Twitter: A closure of social media on the cards?

The Chinese news agency and TV channel are among the outlets which Facebook has designated as “wholly or partially under editorial control of a state”, based on the opinion of unnamed experts. Beijing criticized the change on Friday, saying social media platforms should not create obstacles for traditional media.

China accuses Facebook of ‘ideological bias’

“We hope that the relevant social media platform can put aside the ideological bias and hold an open and accepting attitude towards each country’s media role,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said during a daily briefing.

Responding to Facebook announcing to label foreign state-controlled media, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said, “We hope the social media platform concerned will rise above its ideological bias.” “It should not place barriers selectively, even less politicise issues,” Shuang added. He said foreign media agencies should be treated equally as long as they abide by local laws.

Facebook’s ‘ideological bias’: different labels for allies and enemies 

Facebook started labeling media pages on Thursday. Outlets associated with countries including China, Russia or Iran are described as “state-controlled”.

The world’s biggest social network will apply the label to Russia’s Sputnik, Iran’s Press TV and China’s Xinhua News Agency, according to a partial list that Facebook provided. The company will apply the label to about 200 pages at the outset.

Facebook will not label any US-based news organisations for now, as it determined that even US government-run outlets have editorial independence, Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said in an interview.

Read more: Trump labelled racist by Twitter users amid massive unrest

Facebook, which has acknowledged its failure to stop Russian use of its platforms to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election, has since stepped up its defences and imposed greater transparency requirements for pages and ads on its platforms.

The company announced plans last year to create a state media label, but is introducing it amid criticism over its hands-off treatment of misleading and racially charged posts by United States President Donald Trump

Moreover, public broadcasters in nations allied with Washington, have been given softer markers. The BBC in Britain has the label: “Confirmed Page Owner: British Broadcasting Corporation”. The Facebook page of the US government news channel Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty had no label at the time of writing.

Social media in the US: on Trump’s hit-list

The labeling of foreign media by Facebook was introduced as all social media platforms in the US find themselves in a perilous position following an executive order signed by President Donald Trump.

US President Donald Trump threatened earlier to shutter social media platforms after Twitter for the first time acted against his false tweets, prompting the enraged Republican to double down on unsubstantiated claims and conspiracy theories. Trump’s attack on Twitter may also be a precursor to tighter social media regulation by the current administration.

Trump planned on signing an executive order “pertaining to social media”, aides to the president said.

Twitter tagged two of his tweets in which he claimed that more mail-in voting would lead to what he called a “Rigged Election” this November.

The order was to probe the tech giants on whether they were abusing their editorial power over content and thus no longer merited special legal protection, unlike traditional publishers.

Read more: Facebook refuses to remove Trump’s posts despite backlash

Trump gave the order amid a feud with Twitter, which marked some of his tweets with “fact-checks” implying they were misinforming readers. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg criticized Twitter’s move, reiterating that social networks should not be the arbiters of truth. In the following days an internal revolt by Facebook employees over Zuckerberg’s failure to go after Trump became public.

RT with additional input by GVS News Desk

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