Acknowledging that “many conservatives don’t trust that [Facebook] surfaces content without a political bias,” Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg met with about a dozen prominent right-wingers Wednesday at the company’s California headquarters.

The meeting — on the fourth anniversary of the day Facebook issued its initial public offering and became a public company — was closed to reporters, but in a statement afterward, Zuckerberg noted that “Donald Trump has more fans on Facebook than any other presidential candidate. And Fox News drives more interactions on its Facebook page than any other news outlet in the world. It’s not even close.”

Facebook has been under pressure since the tech news site Gizmodo, citing an unnamed former employee, reported May 9 that conservative news sources had been regularly demoted and that liberal sources had been promoted in its “Trending Topics” section — the box to the right of a user’s main news feed, packaged with birthday notices and invitations.

Zuckerberg promised Wednesday that Facebook would always be “a platform for all ideas, saying, “It doesn’t make sense for our mission or our business to suppress political content or prevent anyone from seeing what matters most to them.”

In a signal of just how important Facebook is to political movements, including the conservative, many of those at the meeting announced and discussed their attendance on Facebook.

Zuckerberg several times mentioned how important it was for the company to win back the trust of Republicans and other conservatives.

The site initially said it wasn’t technologically possible for content reviewers to manipulate the results of the internal Trending Topics algorithms. But as more information emerged, it released the feature’s internal guidelines (PDF), which explicitly reveal that unspecified topics are sometimes “blacklisted” and that human editors are instructed to look beyond what the algorithms suggest to find “any newsworthy topics that aren’t showing up in the review tool.”

Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, chairman of the Commerce Committee — which, among other jurisdictions, oversees technology, communications and Internet issues — has demanded that employees responsible for Trending Topics brief his committee by next Tuesday.

 

[Source: NBC]