Facebook Inc will no longer rely on a top-10 list of websites to help choose items for its Trending Topics section, even though an internal probe showed no evidence of political bias in the selection process, the company said on Monday.
The world’s largest social media network said in a blogpost that changes include clearer guidelines for human editors on the Trending Topics team, more training to emphasize avoiding ideological or political basis, and more robust review procedures.
The internal investigation was prompted by a letter from Republican Sen. John Thune earlier this month demanding that the company explain how it selects news articles for its “trending” list. (bit.ly/1Tvv3Nm)
A former Facebook contractor had accused the company’s editors of deliberately suppressing conservative news. The allegations were reported by technology news website Gizmodo, which did not identify the ex-contractor.
Facebook said its investigation showed that conservative and liberal topics were approved as trending topics at nearly identical rates. It said it was unable to substantiate any allegations of politically motivated suppression of particular subjects or sources.
What is left open to wide interpretation here, of course, is what the leftist editors at Facebook deem “conservative” topics. I’ll wager that they’re including a lot of Trump stories just to make the numbers look good.
Yeah, I’m a little skeptical.
Internal reviews are always carrying a hint of fish smell when they are the only reviews done after an institution is hit with any kind of allegations. Self criticism is difficult, whether it’s being done by an individual or a company. I still see the 28-year-old me when I look in the mirror.
Facebook may very well have not been intentionally biased in its editorial practices (although based on experience with them I suspect they were), but it most definitely was biased in its hiring practices. I’m guessing that the offices aren’t exactly loaded with former College Republicans.
I really would have been more impressed if Facebook would have simply said, “Yeah, we lean a little left here.”
It would be fun to see what the new guidelines are for avoiding ideological or political bias. When you are proceeding from a place of bias it’s got to be a little tough to purge all of the bias.
If there is any bias.