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Facebook denies burying stories in its trending news section

Its CEO Mark Zuckerberg said there was “no evidence” its curation team would omit stories that could be deemed politically conservative.

Mark Zuckerberg speaking at the F8 conference back in April.
Mark Zuckerberg speaking at the F8 conference back in April.
Image: AP Photo/Eric Risberg

FACEBOOK HAS DENIED it prioritises certain news in its trending section after a report had claimed it buried stories that were deemed to be politically conservative.

Its CEO and founder, Mark Zuckerberg, said that there was “no evidence” that the company did this or promote more liberal stories even if they weren’t trending.

“We have rigorous guidelines that do not permit the prioritisation of one viewpoint over another or the suppression of political perspectives,” he said in a Facebook post.

We 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.

The report from Gizmodo quoted a number of former employees whose job it was to curate the section.

In it, they said the team would exclude articles from more conservative news outlets, or include them when mainstream sites like the New York Times and CNN would cover them, and were allowed to include non-trending stories if they deemed them important.

In response, Facebook released a statement explaining how it chooses stories for trending topics.

The trending news section was added back in 2014 in certain countries as a way of making Facebook a better source for news.

In a section titled “how do you protect against bias in the Trending Topics product?” it said that its algorithm only surfaces topics that appear because of “popularity and frequency… and does not consider perspective or politics”.

We have a series of checks and balances in place to help surface the most important popular stories, regardless of where they fall on the ideological spectrum… Facebook does not allow or advise our reviewers to discriminate against sources of any political origin, period.

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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