Mark Zuckerberg, who is currently under fire for an alleged liberal bias in Facebook trends, was challenged to a debate on Friday morning by Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos.
Zuckerberg has responded to the allegations by offering to discuss trends with conservatives and has launched a probe to get to the bottom of claims that Facebook has suppressed conservative views.
“Every tool we build is designed to give more people a voice and bring our global community together.”
Yiannopoulos, who is tech editor for the right-wing news outlet, has jumped on Zuckerberg’s offer by launching a YouTube video openly challenging Zuckerberg to a debate.
— Milo Yiannopoulos ✘ (@Nero) May 13, 2016
Yiannopoulos, an avid Trump supporter, appears in the video wearing blazing black sunglasses, donned as a self-important celebrity. In his clipped British accent, Yiannopoulos blasts Facebook by accusing the company of “routinely” censoring conservative news.
Yiannopoulos, who has over 220,000 Twitter followers, had his “verified” status revoked earlier this year for violating its rules, according to CNNMoney.
The Breitbart editor said, “Facebook is clearly being proactive in a way that Twitter never has been.”
“But users want to see action, not words… They want to see their feeds reflect what people are actually talking about sharing — not what some hipster in California thinks is, like, really important right now.”
WATCH: Milo Yiannopoulos (@Nero) Challenges Mark Zuckerberg To Debate!
My money’s on Zuck chickening out. https://t.co/bQCnfmph3m
— Boston Bobblehead (@DBloom451) May 13, 2016
Yiannopoulos is well known within the GamerGate movement, which CNNMoney says “purports to promote ethics in gaming journalism but has been condemned for its treatment of women.”
Yiannopoulos is highly controversial, calling his string of speaking engagements “The Dangerous F****t Tour.” He is the recent subject of a petition to stop him from speaking at DePaul University.
“By inviting Yiannopoulos to speak at a campus function, the administration of DePaul University is allowing the rhetoric of hate speech and perpetuating systemic persecutions against people of color, women, Muslims, queer, trans, and gender nonconforming individuals, and other communities on campus.”
The petition ignores the fact that Yiannopoulos himself is openly gay.
Yiannopoulos’s challenge to Zuckerberg was in response to a post on Thursday night, where Zuckerberg said he will invite “leading conservatives and people from across the political spectrum” to talk with him.
A Breitbart editor, Milo Yiannopoulos, wants to challenge Mark Zuckerberg to a debate over allegations that F… https://t.co/gqC3vzlAni
— Nunes Marketing (@NunesMarketing) May 13, 2016
Facebook Trends have been a subject of intense inspection this week after anonymous sources told Gizmodo that the company “routinely” instructed contractors to suppress news with conservative points of view.
Zuckerberg Weighs in on the Trending News Controversy https://t.co/Ekz8ssn2le
— LoriMoreno (@LoriMoreno) May 13, 2016
Zuckerberg even received a letter from the U.S. Senate Department of Commerce, Science and Transportation demanding answers as to whether Facebook was spreading politically biased information and asking to see “a list of all news stories removed from or injected into the Trending Topics section since January 2014.”
“Any attempt by a neutral and inclusive social media platform to censor or manipulate political discussion is an abuse of trust and inconsistent with the values of an open Internet.”
But Facebook has been politically unclear, according to an article in Newsweek. Zuckerberg has donated to both parties and refuses to be labeled as one or the other, “going on record to say he’s ‘pro-knowledge economy’ unfettered by party lines.”
Zuckerberg said that Facebook is “conducting a full investigation to ensure our teams upheld the integrity of this [Trending topics] product,” adding that the company has 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.”
When asked if he thought Zuckerberg would accept his challenge to debate, Yiannopoulos replied, “He might! Who knows. I’m a friendly conservative.”
Zuckerberg has not yet responded to the request.
[Photo by Eric Risberg/AP Images]