It has long been known that Facebook is somewhat selective in what posts they allow to “trend” on their popular service. But while they may have biases for one reason or the other, the question being posed by the world of CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) is whether or not Facebook has specific leanings.
This issue is prominent because the internet has given viewpoints not championed by political medicine a chance to be shared beyond tiny, discrete circles. Facebook in particular remains a hotspot to discuss major issues regarding nutrition of popular foods, commonly used drugs and medical treatments.
So what exactly is Facebook’s take on alternative medicine?
Presently, there is little evidence to suggest Facebook has any serious interest in censoring posts and topics regarding alternative medicine. Thousands upon thousands of groups exist that discuss ideas that contradict or contest conventional medicine with no recourse or punishment to be seen.
But that’s not to say other tech giants all share the same views. In February of 2017, there were accusations that Google blacklisted NaturalNews.com from their public index. While that seems to no longer be the case (given that Natural News still shows up on searches), plenty of other big news pages continue to post highly inflammatory articles condemning the page (among others).
Facebook, despite no clear agenda regarding alternative medicine, does tend to follow suit with other big data companies. The concern, however, is what they will do in the future based on prior activities.
Only time will tell for sure what Facebook’s future policy will be about alternative medicine, but we already know a great deal about their past activities when it comes to selective featuring. In the recent past Facebook threw support behind liberal politics by directly suppressing news stories of interest to conservative viewers.
These kinds of unscrupulous activities are nothing new; they’ve been going on at least since 2012, when Facebook banned a series of alternative news accounts. There are also concerns that Facebook sometimes chooses articles that are not popular or trending and pushes them out to users as though they were, something that acts as a major interference to “free media” on the net.
Another concern with regards to Facebook is the business model behind their company. As we all know, Facebook allows anyone to make an account; there are no fees or charges associated with being a member. But if that’s the case, how does Facebook make money?
They make it by gathering and selling data and by being one of the biggest advertisers in existence. Their data collection is a separate issue, but ad revenue is a major concern when it comes to censorship.
Why is that? There’s only so much room on a person’s screen for information—that space can quickly become occupied by paid for content that gets priority over other stories or information. It becomes, in a sense, a passive censor on posts people legitimately want to see because of paid interests.
As a result, whether Facebook has a specific policy to block alternative medicine becomes irrelevant because more often than not, there’s less money behind alternative medicine and thus less advertising. It literally filters itself out of existence, at least to an extent.
What Can We Do?
Some might simply say that the answer is “don’t use Facebook.” But that’s an entirely unlikely choice for most of us. Realistically, measures taken against censorship on Facebook need to be handled more conservatively.
First, you can limit how much information Facebook collects by obscuring your IP address using a proxy software. A proxy service is really something all modern internet users should have, largely because of the constant invasion of privacy perpetuated by big data and to a lesser extent by cybercriminals.
You can also vote with your likes and with the content you view. Although Facebook has paid interests, their algorithms do still tend to prefer popular topics. The more interest alternative medicine gets, the harder it becomes to manually suppress.
Naturally, it’s also possible to own stock in Facebook. Owning part of a company gives you a stake in their daily activities and literally “buys” you some say. This isn’t an option that’s incredibly effective at low share values but does become increasingly valuable as similar interests own a greater percentage of the company.
Don’t forget to adjust your News Feed Preferences either. This setting didn’t always exist, but it can be used to slightly adjust what appears on your personal feed more frequently.
Lastly, keep an eye on your actual account settings. Facebook is notorious for changing settings and rules around, so it’s essential to check them every few months. These are things that can impact the type of content you see as well as the information you share about yourself.
About the Author: Caroline is a health advocate and IT specialist. She believes in internet freedom and the right of every voice to be heard online, particularly those with dissenting ideas. In the field of health, Caroline is especially interested in advancements in alternative medicine.