“From a communication point of view, the reach best list is not a total win,” wrote Silverman.

Mr. Schultz, Facebook’s chief marketing officer, had the direst view of CrowdTangle. He wrote that, in his opinion, “the only way to avoid such stories” is for Facebook to post its own reports of the most popular content on its platform instead of posting data through CrowdTangle.

“If we go down the path of simply offering more self-service data, I think you’ll get other exciting, negative stories,” he wrote.

Mr Osborne, the Facebook spokesperson, said Mr Schultz and the other executives were discussing how to correct misrepresentations of CrowdTangle data, and not a strategy to kill the tool.

A few days after the November election, Mr Schultz a Post for the company blog, titled “What Do People in the US Really See on Facebook?” He explained that if you sort Facebook posts by which get the greatest reach rather than the most engagement – his preferred method of cutting the data – you end up with a mainstream, and less partisan, list of sources.

“We believe this gives a more complete picture than the CrowdTangle data alone,” he wrote.

That may be true, but there is a problem with reach data: most of it is inaccessible and cannot be verified or verified by outside parties. We just have to trust that Facebook’s own private data tells a very different story than the data it shares with the public.

Mr. Zuckerberg is right about one thing: Facebook is not a huge right echo chamber.

But it does contain a huge right echo chamber – a type of AM talk radio built into the heart of Facebook’s news ecosystem, with a hyper-engaged audience of loyal followers who love to like, share, and click posts from right-wing sites, many of them got good at serving up Facebook-optimized outrage bait in one consistent clip.

CrowdTangle’s data made this echo chamber easier for outsiders to see and quantify. But it didn’t make it or give it the tools it needs to grow – Facebook did – and blaming a data tool for those revelations makes no more sense than blaming bad weather on a thermometer.



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