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T24 report: Facebook favors Erdoğan-related content over opposition news

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The T24 news website published an article on Friday saying that when they have tried to boost the reach of content on Facebook about the opposition parties in Turkey, particularly news reports on the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş and Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Muharrem İnce, the social media company responded much later to these types of promotion applications than to any news related to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

For instance, the T24 article suggests, a promotion request for a news story with the headline “Muharrem İnce in İzmir, huge crowd in Gündoğan Square” was approved by Facebook in seven hours, 32 minutes, whereas another piece headlined “President Erdoğan: There are no teachers awaiting positions” was approved in 32 minutes.

Facebook users can pay the social media company to make their content more visible to other users, called “promoted content.” Since it’s an effective way to reach larger numbers of people, Facebook wants to check the content first.

According to T24, it normally takes Facebook approximately 20 minutes to approve any promotional content, depending on the content and the keywords used for promoting it.

For election coverage, T24 tested Facebook’s response time to varying content from different political parties, reaching the conclusion that the social media outlet favors the AKP and Erdoğan-related content.

T24 also reported that Facebook can interfere in the content by using a filter algorithm that can slow the circulation of content in most cases, according to sources working for the social media company.

To check Facebook’s response time, T24 also tried to promote a news story about Erdoğan’s leaked off-the-record speech urging his party’s local officials to ensure that the HDP remains under the election threshold, which Facebook approved 12 hours, 32 minutes later.

While a news story about Botox treatment had been positively responded to in only eight minutes, content related to the Diyarbakır Bar Association’s former head Tahir Elçi, who was assassinated in 2015, was approved more than 13 hours later.

According to T24’s chart showing the news content tested on Facebook, most of the Erdoğan-related stories were approved in under an hour.

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