Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed accusations of anti-conservative bias in a Facebook post Thursday:
“This week, there was a report suggesting that Facebook contractors working on Trending Topics suppressed stories with conservative viewpoints. We take this report very seriously and are conducting a full investigation to ensure our teams upheld the integrity of this product.
We have found no evidence that this report is true. If we find anything against our principles, you have my commitment that we will take additional steps to address it.
In the coming weeks, I’ll also be inviting leading conservatives and people from across the political spectrum to talk with me about this and share their points of view. I want to have a direct conversation about what Facebook stands for and how we can be sure our platform stays as open as possible.”
Reaction to the allegations has been varied. Conservative news sites such as Breitbart whose stories were allegedly suppressed unless they were carried by mainstream news outlets have protested against this bias on the supposedly neutral Facebook platform. Slate ran a story Thursday entitled “Of Course Facebook Is Biased – Its Real Problem is That it Won’t Admit It” which asserts that since Facebook’s Trending news section for all intents and purposes is a journalistic entity, its error was in using low-level curators who could not be expected to meet the neutral standards of journalism it advertised. The author, Will Oremus says to address the problems of bias Facebook should either use a truly algorithmic process free of human curation to pick trending stories or assemble a real journalistic team. On the other hand, Vox’s Ezra Klein opines that “Facebook is going to get more politically biased, not less” as a virtue of users’ individual political bias creating an echo chamber effect based on their chosen associations on Facebook.