Facebook is battling accusations of suppressing conservative news, so CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he is planning to “invite leading conservatives and people from across the political spectrum” to share their viewpoints regarding the accusations of political bias at Facebook.
Zuckerberg denies the bias allegations
Thursday evening in a Facebook post, Zuckerberg rejected the claims that the social media giant’s trending topics team suppresses conservative news. The CEO also denied the allegations of bias.
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“We have found no evidence that this report is true,” he wrote. “If we find anything against our principles, you have my commitment that we will take additional steps to address it.”
The statement from Zuckerberg does indicate that the allegations are damaging the company even though the tech giant serves as a news source for millions of people. It must be noted that Zuckerberg’s statement focused on the question of political bias against conservative viewpoints but did not address the questions about their editorial practices. This was the third dispatch in four days from a Facebook executive.
On Monday, Gizmodo claimed that contracted workers at the social media giant routinely “suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers” and artificially “inject” stories into the trending topics section.
Conservative media now more critical of Facebook
On Tuesday, Facebook’s VP for search, Tom Stocky, addressed the controversy and denied the allegations of bias in a post. He wrote that the social networking site does not insert stories artificially into trending topics or instruct its reviewers to do so.
However, The Guardian reported early on Thursday that it had obtained the social network’s internal guidelines for the trending topics section and that those guidelines contradict Stocky’s statement. Instructions for how curators can “blacklist” or “inject” topics in the trending topics were included in the document. The guidelines state that the editorial team “can” inject a newsworthy topic which attracts a lot of attention, such as #BlackLivesMatter.
Subsequently, Facebook’s vice president for global operations, Justin Osofsky, wrote his own blog post about the editorial guidelines, saying many topics are rejected because they “reflect what is considered ‘noise.’” After the revelations on Facebook’s news strategy by The Guardian, conservative media has doubled down on those accusations of bias against the social media giant.
Sean Davis, co-founder of popular conservative site The Federalist, said, “They market it as this organic collection of things that are trending.”
Facebook relies on a list of 10 top news sources for most of its decisions about whether a topic meets the criteria to join the trending news module or not.