Mark Zuckerberg’s company, Facebook, has been under fire lately after news broke that outside contractors for Facebook have been suppressing conservative news stories that might have otherwise appeared through organic means via their trending news section. Although the reports are mostly unsubstantiated, there have been some people who say they were intimately involved with the trending topics list and how it was presented.
What Mark Zuckerberg has done in response is started an investigation into whether or not these reports are true or false. Of course an investigation like this may take quite some time. But Zuckerberg has promised that he is going to find out the truth about this one way or another, in a Facebook post Thursday night.
What is apparent from the very onset of this post is that Mark Zuckerberg does not have any reason to believe that the reports are true. Zuckerberg does, however, acknowledge that he needs to look further into the accusations and make sure that he knows exactly what might have happened to cause this mess in the first place.
— Engadget (@engadget) May 13, 2016
“Trending Topics” on Facebook has been somewhat of a news juggernaut for the age of social media, although it is sourced through news sites like CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and other media properties like the publications of TIME and Newsweek. But there are also those smaller publications out there that are mostly online news sources, or even news aggregate sources that can drive the trending topics as well.
This could be an issue for certain conservative news outlets like The Blaze or Breitbart. They are mostly on the conservative side and they report the news with what is considered to be biased viewpoints. Although Mark Zuckerberg has never came out and said that he himself is liberal or a conservative, that may be beside the point, considering he had hired third party contractors to run the trending topics section.
— Diario La Tribuna (@LaTribunahn) May 3, 2016
Trending topics is supposed to be driven by an algorithm that tells the platform what is trending with Facebook users. The resource, Mark Zuckerberg says, is something that informs many people on Facebook about what is considered to be a hot topic in the social media world. That incudes news site posts as well as celebrity news or other weird news.
What Mark Zuckerberg seemed to be saying in his Facebook post is that he has found no evidence that supports the claim that the trending topics section of the social media platform has been compromised with news suppression tactics. But that does not necessarily mean that it has not happened, it just means that Zuckerberg has not found it yet.
Leaked Documents Confirm Facebook Deciding Which News Stories Trend https://t.co/syt8aU0fQx
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) May 13, 2016
Zuckerberg also said that Facebook has set rigorous guidelines for his third party contractors to use to make sure that the news displayed on the trending topics section is diverse and fair.
One thing that is worth noting about Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg is that even the breaking news report about their alleged conservative news suppression was in their very own “Trending Topics” section for users to see.
— CNN (@CNN) May 13, 2016
See below to read Mark Zuckerberg’s entire post on this controversial topic.
“I want to share some thoughts on the discussion about Trending Topics.
“Facebook stands for giving everyone a voice. We believe the world is better when people from different backgrounds and with different ideas all have the power to share their thoughts and experiences. That’s what makes social media unique. We are one global community where anyone can share anything — from a loving photo of a mother and her baby to intellectual analysis of political events.
“To serve our diverse community, we are committed to building a platform for all ideas. Trending Topics is designed to surface the most newsworthy and popular conversations on Facebook. We have rigorous guidelines that do not permit the prioritization of one viewpoint over another or the suppression of political perspectives.
“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.
“The reason I care so much about this is that it gets to the core of everything Facebook is and everything I want it to be. Every tool we build is designed to give more people a voice and bring our global community together. For as long as I’m leading this company this will always be our mission.”
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]