RUSH: We had a call yesterday from a guy we had to cut short ’cause we ran out of time. His name is Peter in Washington, DC. He was talking about algorithms and all this stuff going on at Fakebook. And he and I got into a discussion — he’s an IT specialist, computer specialist, scientist. And we were discussing algorithms and various theories about them, and we had to cut it short. So we asked him if we could call him back, and he said yes. So we welcome him back to the program. Hi, Peter. Thanks for letting us call you back today and continue this.
CALLER: No problem. Hey, Rush, happy Friday.
RUSH: Happy Friday to you, too.
CALLER: I’d like to start off by asking for a little bit of patience because I stutter and speaking on the radio isn’t the most comfortable thing for me. Anyhow, my point yesterday was that Facebook would have had to go very far out of their way to implement an algorithm that had a bias one way or another. And I’ll explain why. I think when you consider the “what’s trending” feed, the expectation is that it would be what everybody on Facebook is posting about, what’s most popular, at least as an end user that’s what I would expect.
RUSH: Let me stop you at various stages here because I don’t do Fakebook. I mean, I’ve got a Fakebook page, but we have it for the audience. I don’t even know how many followers I’ve got. But on this trending news, it had to start somewhere. Somebody had to start the trend — (interruption) What are you laughing at in there? You’re distracting me. What is so funny? I don’t have to do Fakebook to know what this is about. I can give you a classic example of Fakebook bias that has nothing to do with algorithms. I’ll do that here in just a second.
But my specific question to you, Peter, I know what you’re saying, you’re saying that an algorithm that simply calculates what’s most popular among Fakebook readers in the news feed, the trending news, is what gets reported top to bottom and therefore they don’t need TV an algorithm that slants it any direction because all it is is a reflection of Fakebook readers and what they’re reading in the news, right?
CALLER: Exactly. All you would do is count words used most often in people’s posts.
RUSH: Okay, but my question is, from what are Fakebook users choosing? Who puts the news in the news feed? Who curates it, who aggregates it? Are people going out, like going to CNN, finding a story and posting it on the Fakebook site? Is that what they do?
CALLER: My suggestion is that if people are posting links from other news agencies, then you could very easily count which ones are used most often and post that in the feed. It’s completely unbiased. It’s the easiest way to go about it, too.
RUSH: Let me say something here at the top, too. This is not a big deal to me. Fakebook is a private company and they can do what they want to do. I could not care less. Now, I will admit that the trending whatever it’s called does happen to be a primary news source for a vast number of Americans. They have 1.6 billion users worldwide, so it’s a serious thing. But my whole point about these algorithms is very simple.
If every employee at Fakebook who works in this division is a liberal, has been born and raised by liberals, and has known nothing else, that person is not even gonna think they’re biased. They’re gonna think they’re normal. They’re gonna think they are what is. And anything that’s not them is what’s odd and quirky and weird, and they might have to be overly sensitive to what it is to include it. But I think you can write an algorithm to exclude or include anything you want. Apple News, you know, it’s not a competing feature for the Fakebook — what is this, is it trending news, trending feed? What’s it called? Does anybody know? Nobody on my staff is even — it’s trending, whatever it is. I’m sorry, folks, I’m woefully uninformed, but I don’t need to be on this to make any point.
The argument is, or has been made, that people who have no clue how things work are being inundated with the liberal point of view on Fakebook and have no idea. They just think it’s what’s popular among Fakebook readers. And of course since most people are followers, if the number one trending story on Fakebook is Trump sucks or some derivative of that, then a vast majority of people are gonna read it and get in line ’cause they want to be with what’s popular and they’re gonna end up thinking Trump sucks, which is probably an objective of a lot of people at Fakebook.
Now, if you examine the whole concept of news consumption, look at Apple News. Apple started with iOS 9 last fall, they had a new app called Apple News, and if you know what Flipboard is, it was kind of a — I don’t want to call it a Flipboard rip-off, but it’s basically an RSS feed with graphics and photos, and you can go in as a user and you can pick the sites that you want featured. But you pick from a list of publications that Apple provides you.
And if you happen to be a conservative, you won’t see very many conservative sites, blogs, publications. They’re there if you already read them and can enter them in the search field. But from the list of things from which you can choose, it’s the usual suspects. It’s the New York Times. It’s the Washington Post. It’s CNN. And then it’s the New York Times, the Washington Post, and CNN. And then it’s Wired, and then it’s Salon.com. If you want to read Power Line, you might have to search Power Line in the search filed to find it. It’s there, but it’s not readily — at least it wasn’t last fall when I last toyed around with this.
But I maintain that it’s impossible to write an unbiased algorithm because people are not unbiased. I’ve always believed thoughtful people, engaged people care about the outcome of events, and if that’s you, you are biased. You are not objective. You have to make a special effort to include that which you instinctively disagree with.
And if you happen to write the algorithm that calculates, you could write an algorithm, for example, that eliminates from your trending top 20 anything from a conservative site. If you wanted to write that algorithm, you could. Nobody would ever know. You would just assume that conservatism is not very popular. If you read what’s trending on Fakebook and there’s no conservatism there, it could be the result of an algorithm being written.
Now, what Peter’s point here is, if all you do is write an algorithm that does nothing more than tabulate the most-read pieces on the most-clicked on websites, then that’s what’s you’re gonna get. You’re gonna get a list of most read, most popular, whatever you want to call it, and you call it trending, and you can do an algorithm that does nothing but genuinely tabulate the real popularity of any number of articles anywhere on the Web that people are finding and then posting to the trending, whatever it is, on Fakebook.
But it has to start somewhere. There has to be a starting point for this. And I don’t know whether that algorithm exists. Now, Fakebook wants everybody to think that that’s what their algorithms are. That all they do is tabulate what people are posting on their own news feed that ends up in the Fakebook trending news line, whatever it is. And it’s nothing more than the results of their readers, their members posting each and every day what they’re reading. But you can come up with any kind of algorithm you want to alter that, however you wish, and if they want to do that, that’s fine.
But it goes beyond that, folks, and a glaring example was discovered yesterday right at Fakebook. And it is this. Actress Patricia Heaton, who those of us who know her know that she is a devout pro-life actress in Hollywood, and she is very public about it, fearless about it, and she still works. She’s talented. She was on Everybody Loves Raymond. Her husband as well, they’re openly conservative, and she’s open and visible in her pro-life position and in her pro-life charity work.
So the Fakebook version of a recent story, of a tweet that Patricia Heaton posted, here’s a tweet that she posted. “Choose, celebrate, support life. Thanks, Northwest Center.” Northwest Center is a place that she supports that cares for pregnant women and their children after they are born. In her tweet there was not a word, there wasn’t one mention of abortion. Fakebook made a news story out of this. They converted her tweet into a news story, complete with a picture of her, and the headline said: “Patricia Heaton, Actress, Shares Anti-Abortion Message, Says, ‘Support Life.'” And then they publish her tweet. “Thanks, Northwest Center.”
Well, no algorithm’s involved here. Some human being at Fakebook saw her tweet, “Choose, celebrate, support life,” got mad, and probably started cursing her and said, “All right, we’ll take care of this.” And then he posted a story with the headline: “Patricia Heaton, Actress, Shares Anti-Abortion Message, Says, ‘Support Life.'” She did no such thing. She didn’t talk about abortion. She didn’t make one reference to the word. She simply posted a tweet acknowledging the work of this place that she supports, the Northwest Center, which cares for pregnant women and their children after they’re born.
Now, obviously that’s a place that asks women to go there instead of to an abortion mill, but the word “abortion” is not here. It’s not anything she talked about. This is exactly the kind of bias in the Drive-By Media that everybody’s concerned about would point to. This has nothing to do with an algorithm, nothing to do with a trending news feed. This is somebody at Fakebook deciding to characterize Patricia Heaton in a way that she isn’t, or wasn’t in this particular tweet. And it is designed to defame her. It is designed to be controversial. It’s designed to misrepresent what she’s talking about here. And at the end of it, it is designed to impugn Patricia Heaton because she celebrates life. Somehow that’s insulting to leftists.
“Patricia Heaton, Actress, Shares Anti-Abortion Message.” There’s no anti-abortion message here. But look, all that aside, Fakebook can do what they want. They’re a private company and live and die with it. I think it’s worthwhile trying to point out to people like I’ve been doing for 25 years, bias when you see it to educate people and to inform them so that they can learn to spot it on their own, at ABC, CBS, NBC, and now spotted at Fakebook or spotted at Twitter or wherever it is, ’cause it’s everywhere.
RUSH: Remember what got this Fakebook stuff started, folks. Not me. It was a story on Gizmodo, which is the tech site version of Gawker. Somebody at Gizmodo said they talked to a former Fakebook employee who was a curator in whatever the division that produces news in the news feed. And this guy told Gawker that it’s a bunch of liberals and a bunch of leftists doing their best to exclude any pro-conservative news from the Twitter news feed, trending, whatever it’s called.
That’s where all of this started, one source. Maybe two total sources, former Fakebook employees. And that’s what the debate has been about. I don’t think there’s any question that that happens. We’re talking about the Drive-By Media. Remember John O’Sullivan and the first law of what is. Any organization that is not, by definition, conservative, will be liberal. Conservatism is an active, daily pursuit. Liberalism is the most gutless choice you can make. Doesn’t require anything other than feelings and good intentions and all the rest of it.
It should be the opposite because conservatism, when you boil it all down, if people are left to their own devices — not today, but for most of American history — people and the way they led their lives, that’s what conservatism is. It’s just personal responsibility and budgeting and personal behavior, in personal responsibility, in morality, you name it. I mean, people raise their kids to avoid trouble, to be the best they can be, to get educated, to learn to compete, all that’s conservatism. But it has been branded and maligned.
Liberalism is just get up and go about your day and if you get your feelings hurt, somebody’s responsible for it. Somebody owes you something, you’re a victim of something. It’s easy to fall into the trap. You see suffering, you go (crying). You’re a great liberal. That’s all you gotta do. You don’t have to fix it. You don’t have to have an idea how to fix it. You just have to spot it and you’re a great, great liberal. It’s easy. But conservatism is intellectual, ideological; conservatism is an active daily pursuit. And I know they’re not doing it at Fakebook, which means they’re gonna be liberals. It’s the way it is.
RUSH: Incidentally, that Patricia Heaton story that I just cited on Fakebook where they refer to her anti-abortion comments when she didn’t make any, shot to the top of whatever we’re talking about here. Shot to the top of the trending list at Fakebook. And that’s how it happens. So you got these numskulls that don’t know what’s up out there reading this stuff and hating on Patricia Heaton today. And they’re clueless that they’ve been lied to.
RUSH: I was just noticing, you know, our Fakebook page, we use the Revere Fakebook page a lot, and we have the Rush Revere and Liberty Fakebook page. Kathryn has that humming. We’ve got great audience relationships going there with the Rush Revere book series, families and books and homeschoolers. But on the Rush Limbaugh EIB Network Fakebook page I know we got two million followers and I never do anything on it. We could have 20 million followers if I actually applied myself. But you know why I don’t? You want to know why I don’t?
I’m gonna get in big, big trouble here because I’ve got people working with me afraid if I go on Fakebook every day I’ll start calling people names and I’ll be out of control and that they’re gonna get in trouble themselves. “So don’t tweet, don’t Fakebook, don’t do anything. You’ll just cause us trouble. Three hours on the radio’s a big enough risk as it is. Do not go out beyond that.” That’s what people who work with me say. (laughing) I’m not kidding you. You’d be shocked, folks.
But, anyway, two million followers, and we don’t even do anything. Well, we put things on Fakebook and we drive them to RushLimbaugh.com. I got a lot of places to service out there. But my point is that I don’t even know what my log-in is. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I don’t even know what my log-in is. So people, “You mean, we’re posting stuff at Fakebook that you never see?” No, no, no, no, no, no, no. I see things there, but it’s not a daily — remember what I’ve always said about social media. I’m not gonna go there and say, “Hey, I just had my English muffin and I’m roaring and ready to go for the day, happy day.” That’s not me.
“Hey, just got out of the bathroom, feeling really great, show starts in a half hour, don’t miss it.” That’s not me. Isn’t that what people do on Fakebook or Twitter or what have you. (interruption) What’s that? Twitter’s fine. I’m just funning with people.