Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) on Tuesday fell flat on his face when he tried to get technology experts to admit that major social media platforms were biased against conservatives.
While talking with assorted experts on artificial intelligence and algorithms, Johnson said that he had his staff members go to Politico’s Instagram account and record what other recommendations the app gave to them after following it.
According to Johnson, the vast majority of recommendations that came back were for news websites like the Washington Post or progressive outlets like Huffington Post, and none were for right-wing websites such as Breitbart.
Dr. Stephen Wolfram, the founder and chief executive officer of Wolfram Research, scoffed at Johnson’s claim of bias and said it was more likely that Instagram delivered liberal recommendations to Politico followers because those followers were more likely to follow neutral or progressive political news websites in the first place.
“The thing that will happen is, if there’s no other information, it will tend to be just where the most content that people on the platform in general have clicked,” he said. “It may be a statement, in that case — I’m really speculating — that the users of that platform tend to like those things.”
Johnson also complained that many conservative news groups were having their articles removed from social media feeds — but Ms. Rashida Richardson, the director of policy research at the AI Now Institute, said that research shows most of those removals came because those articles contained demonstrably false information.
“That’s more of a content moderation issue,” she said.
“OK, anyway,” Johnson replied.
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