Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) denied allegations that it is suppressing stories of interest to conservatives on its “Trending Topics” section.
The allegation was contrary to the mission of Facebook— “to give people the power to share and make the world open and connected.” The social network giant wants people to find out the latest developments in the world and to share and express what matters to them.
Gizmodo published reports indicating that the social network giant’s news curators manipulated Trending Topics to suppress stories of interest to conservatives by injecting unpopular stories. The tech blog cited anonymous former contract workers of Facebook as the source of the information.
Republicans criticized the social network giant as “politically biased” because of the allegation against it.
Facebook has rigorous guidelines to ensure neutrality
In a post, Tom Stocky, an executive at Facebook responsible for Trending Topics, said, “We take these reports extremely seriously, and have found no evidence that the anonymous allegations are true.”
Stocky said Facebook does not allow prioritization of one viewpoint over another or one news outlet over another.
According to him, the social network giant is a “platform for people and perspectives from across political spectrum” and it has “rigorous guidelines in place for the review team to ensure consistency and neutrality.”
Stocky explained, “Trending Topics is designed to showcase the current conversation happening on Facebook. Popular topics are first surfaced by an algorithm, then audited by review team members to confirm that the topics are in fact trending news in the real world and not, for example, similar-sounding topics or misnomers.”
He added they are not inserting stories artificially into Trending Topics. The company’s reviewers are not allowed to do so, but are permitted to take steps to make topics more coherent—combining related topics into a single event to deliver a more integrated experience.
Furthermore, Stocky said, “Facebook does not allow or advise our reviewers to systematically discriminate against sources of any ideological origin and we’ve designed our tools to make that technically not feasible. At the same time, our reviewers’ actions are logged and reviewed, and violating our guidelines is a fireable offense.”