Facebook is Throttling Pulpit & Pen

Currently, major conservative media sites (virtually all of them) believe that Facebook is “throttling” their material. Chiefly, what this means is that Facebook is not allowing their material onto people’s feeds. While not banning your Facebook page, it will require the masses to go to your Facebook page intentionally rather than seeing it scroll across their Facebook feed. This greatly diminishes the number of people who see the news sites’ articles.

We are not the only ones to notice this.

As Andy Meek reported four days ago:

At a House Judiciary Committee hearing earlier today, U.S. Rep. Steve King of Iowa demanded an answer from Facebook Vice President for Global Policy Management Monika Bickert.

Why, he wanted to know, is Gateway Pundit losing traffic?

Gateway Pundit being a pro-Trump news site that’s promoted far-right hoaxes and which announces prominently to readers of its page: “Facebook is currently censoring conservative content.”

Today’s hearing on how social media companies handle the presentation of content — who sees what, and why — probably encapsulates as well as anything the state of modern civic life in America. About why people think what they think about the news, about politics, Trump, everything.

About the hearing specifically, it was another of those things were two people can be looking at it and Republicans see rampant bias, while Democrats howl in response that there’s nothing here, that this is not even a thing.

“It’s a matter of congressional record that [the] Gateway Pundit, Mr. Jim Hoft, has introduced information into the record that in the span of time between 2016 and 2018 he saw his Facebook traffic cut by 54 percent.”

Ben Shapiro has claimed the same (again, this is hardly conspiracy…most major conservative outlets are feeling it). How do we know that Pulpit & Pen is being throttled? Well, we can tell by our website analytics.

These statistics reflect our readership only going back a couple years when we switched to this website host, not going back to our beginning in 2010. These figures, although they don’t show a decrease overall, reflect our decision to allow comments on our website (which we have never allowed, up until now) which significantly drives repeat traffic, which we had to do in response to the Facebook throttle.

When we began to tell that we were being throttled we posted some of our “mega-posts,” those traffic-drivers that have massive Facebook shares (like the ones you can see on the left side of the screen on the homepage from a web-browser). We know that if we post those articles on the Facebook page the bump we can expect in readership as they’re shared all over again and again and again. We typically re-post those articles if we aren’t producing much content because of slow news days. However, when we posted some of those mega-posts (like “Why Hillsong Music is Dangerous for Your Church,” we didn’t see the types of bumps in traffic we always experience. Our experiment seemed to confirm our fears. Usually those would be our highest viewed posts on a slow news day.

Then, we looked deeper. We can see exactly from where our traffic is derived. Consider the last seven days…

Facebook, compared to Twitter, results in a ratio lately of about 4 to 1.

Now, compare the last year or so. What you will see is that Facebook is ordinarily – over the course of many months – responsible for a ratio of 14 to 1 traffic, Facebook. In other words, Facebook is usually responsible for (roughly) 14 times the traffic as Twitter. No more. The disparity is so large that search engines have now replaced Facebook-driven traffic 5 to 1 (above), whereas previously, Facebook-driven traffic easily topped search engines (below). That’s huge, people. HUGE.

This is all well beyond the realms of coincidence.

So then, how to fix it? Well, hopefully the United States Congress will act to ensure that social media companies are open to civil tort litigation if they choose to act like publishers of content. A publisher may approve or disallow content, and is therefore liable for what is published. A social media platform neither approves nor disallows content, and the liability, therefore, falls to the individuals who personally posted it. If Facebook wants to be liable for all the stupid stuff they allow people to post on social media, they can be (they’re a privately owned company, after all). However, it’s unjust to allow them to act as publishers, determining what is and is not allowable content, while being exempt from liability.

In the meantime, you might have to come directly to the Pulpit & Pen Facebook page from your device or app (don’t expect it to be in your news feed) and if it gets much worse, you might have to come directly to PulpitandPen.org to see what’s new.


[Contributed by JD Hall, who happens to be currently banned from Facebook for not meeting “community standards”]

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