In late 2017, Facebook executives were briefed on major changes to the platform’s News Feed—the code that determines which of innumerable posts appear when a user views Facebook. The changes would reduce how much news people saw, and therefore decrease outlets’ revenue. For Mother Jones, the decline in Facebook audience over the following 18 months translated “into a loss of at least $600,000.”

Facebook was moving back to prioritize friends, “bring people closer together,” and promote “trusted” news pieces, as it told the public.

But the public only recently found out, through reporting by The Wall Street Journal and further coverage by Mother Jones, that Facebook ran tests to see how the changes would affect publishers. And when the company found that some changes would dramatically limit the reach of right-wing “junk sites,” as a former Facebook employee put it, the engineers were instructed to lessen those impacts. The result was an algorithm that “dialed up the harm to progressive-leaning news organizations instead.”

Following the Wall Street Journal’s report, Mother Jones Editor-in-Chief Clara Jeffery took to Twitter to highlight the damage and conservative pandering that surrounds these changes. Jeffery noted that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who approved the revised algorithm to favor right-wing news, had conservative commentator Ben Shapiro of the Daily Wire over as a dinner guest at his house. Zuckerberg maintained no such relationships with personalities from the left, and Jeffery called out the hypocrisy of enacting the algorithm changes for partisan balance, saying, “Hey Mark, I only live a few blocks from you.” Last year, Jeffery and Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein wrote a piece that took Facebook to task for allowing fake news and hate speech to fester while sidelining real journalism. Now they know this was a conscious effort.

Back in 2017, Facebook executives were shown a slide show with graphs outlining how the revised algorithm would cause about a dozen left-leaning outlets—including Mother Jones—to suffer. Mother Jones’s Ben Dreyfuss, who oversaw the outlet’s social media strategy, had several meetings with Facebook executives in 2017 and 2018 following the algorithm changes. He was assured “all publishers should expect traffic and engagement to go down a bit, but not in a way that favored or disfavored any single publication or class of publisher.” At the time, he vouched for Facebook, saying the situation didn’t seem dire.

But as Dreyfuss and the social media team saw readership decline, he was frustrated to keep running into walls. Most recently, Dreyfuss was infuriated to learn that those walls were placed intentionally to limit their reach on the platform. Despite Facebook’s assurances since the news broke that it “did not make changes with the intent of impacting individual publishers,” Dreyfuss observes that “Ben Shapiro and conservative sites did indeed win from those algorithmic changes, and Mother Jones and progressive sites did indeed lose.”