Comes now Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to tell us that his company has begun implementing a system that ranks news organizations based on “trustworthiness.”

He was speaking at FB’s annual developer conference this past week in Menlo Park, Calif.

According to multiple sources online, Zuckerberg said the company has gathered lots of data – now there’s an understatement – on how consumers perceive news brands.

FB asked these folks to identify whether they have heard of various publications and if they trust them.

“We put (that data) into the system, and it is acting as a boost or a suppression, and we’re going to dial up the intensity of that over time. We feel like we have a responsibility to further (break) down polarization and find common ground,” he was quoted as saying.

Zuckerberg said FB is planning to invest billions of dollars in artifical intelligence and tens of thousands of human moderators to thwart fake news and deliberate propaganda, especially in elections.

Also:

• “We’re essentially going to be losing money on doing political ads."

• “The big miss is we didn’t expect these kind of coordinated information operations.”

• "We deployed (artifical intelligence) tools that have taken down tens of thousands of accounts."

Color me overly skeptical. but you know how I read that? Squelch content that’s conservative.

I am convinced that if Hillary Clinton had won the 2016 presidential election, we wouldn’t even be talking about this stuff. Remember, when Obama used FB to help him win the White House? His campaign was characterized as laden with brilliant social media strategists.

If Hillary would have won, her campaign would likely have been analyzed the same way – brilliant!

But Trump won.

Yikes!

We gotta do something about this. We can’t let this happen again.

Enter the FB algorithm changes. In January 2017 –  coincidentally, or not so coincidentally the same time Trump entered the White House – FB started looking at its algorithms. Ostensibly, the idea was to eliminate “fake news” and route out bad actors.

But it seemed that each time a new algorithm was rolled out, pages that leaned conservative received less traffic.

Last month TheOutline.com released a study it recently completed under the headline “Conservative Publishers Hit Hardest By Facebook News Feed Change.”

Subhead: “Right wing publications see a sharp decrease in engagement since Facebook’s latest News Feed changes.”

Shocking, eh?

From TheOutline:

According to The Outline’s analysis of Facebook engagement data obtained from research tool BuzzSumo, conservative and right-wing publishers (such as Breitbart, Fox News and Gateway Pundit) were hit the hardest in the weeks following the announcement, with Facebook engagement totals for February dropping as much as 55 percent for some, while the engagement numbers of most predominantly liberal publishers remained unaffected.

The Outline drew these conclusions after analyzing the Facebook engagement data of 20 publishers from March 5, 2017, to February 28, 2018. Research tool BuzzSumo measures Facebook engagement by adding up the total number of likes, shares and comments received per post made by a publisher in a given month; it does not measure total reach.

And there’s this from Axios.com:

Some of the biggest names in conservative digital media are seeing big traffic declines over the past year, according to comScore data pulled by Activate and Axios. On the other hand, business-centric sites, like CNBC, Business Insider, and Bloomberg are seeing big traffic bumps, per the analysis.

None of this, of course, is lost on the FB. Lots of other online outfits are doing their own studies and news sites are all abuzz about it.

Perhaps that’s why, on Tuesday, it was announced that FB has hired an outside adviser to look into potential bias against conservative voices, and give advice on how to avoid that bias.

According to reporting on Axios.com, “The professional conservative advising partnership with Facebook will be led by former Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and his legal team at Covington and Burling, as well as the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, which will hold meetings with Facebook executives.”

I don’t imagine FB execs will be shocked by the findings and I doubt there will be wholesale changes in those algorithms, artificial intelligence or the “tens of thousands of human moderators.” But it’s encouraging that they’re willing to admit there might be a bias.

It is, after all, a free country. If FB wants to strangle conservative content, that’s its prerogative. They can run their business any way they want. But if that’s the case, I don’t want to hear Zuckerberg blather on about how wonderfully altruistic, objective and open his platform is. And I certainly don’t want him to talk about FB’s devotion to freedom of speech.

(I almost laughed out loud when I heard him testify last month that his business is connecting people. Sorry, Zuck, but you didn’t make $70 billion connecting people. You made money by gobbling up scads of personal information from users, bundling it into profiles and selling it to advertisers. We all know FB users are not customers. They are products.)

I get that the vast majority of FB employees – the “human moderators” and the folks who write the algorithms – probably tend to be a little left leaning. And I can see how that, inherently, could lead to bias.

But here’s what I don’t get. Why do they feel the need to suppress conservative ideas?

What are they so afraid of?