Facebook recently revealed that an internal investigation found no signs of political favoritism in the site’s ‘Trending Topics’ feature. The social media giant has been accused of promoting liberal topics and blocking the conservative ones.
Nevertheless, Facebook pledged to revamp the algorithm that powers the ‘Trending’ section to prevent all individual biases.
In a report addressed to U.S. Sen. John Thune, the tech company wrote that right-wing and life-wing views were present in the Trending tool at “virtually identical rates.” The site noted that the most popular topics since early last year were those linked to Donald Trump and the GOP debate.
But Facebook acknowledged that ‘unintentional bias’ may have been slipped in the Trending section by human employees in charge with the selection. The company put the blame for possible biases on ‘human judgment’ and vowed to reduce the risks.
Additionally, Facebook moderators who select topics will no longer be required to make a decision by looking at what’s important on external news outlets. The social media company added that it would boost oversight to Trending curators as well.
The controversy started when an independent tech site found that human moderators of the feature tend to suppress right-wing views in Trending Topics by blocking conservative news outlets and topics.
The website initially said there was no intentional bias, but admitted that humans play a much larger role in the selection of topics than it had previously said. In the wake of the report, Sen. Thune addressed a letter to Mark Zuckerberg asking for comments on the issue.
On Wednesday, 16 right-wing representatives met the founder of Facebook at the company’s headquarters, while Sen. Thune had a private conversation with the company’s general counsel Colin Stretch.
Sen. Thune praised Facebook for its seriousness in dealing with the latest accusations after he received the 12-page-long letter. The senator added that he is eagerly waiting for the company to match its actions with its ‘public rhetoric.’
Brent Bozell, one of the lead conservatives that met Zuckerberg last Wednesday, noted that Facebook had embraced mostly liberal and leftists viewpoints in its Trending feature. But if it manages to change that, it is possible to return to “its neutral roots.”
Other conservatives, however, were unimpressed. They pledged to continue the fight to push Facebook into adopting a fair treatment towards conservatives. The American Conservative Union noted that the issue remains unresolved despite Facebook’s investigative work.
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