Facebook has denied reports that it censors conservative publications from its “trending topics”.
This statement came after a Gizmodo report from sources. Which says they were formerly on the team that chose what Trends appeared on Facebook’s site.
A report by Gizmodo said staff, who aggregated content for Facebook, were encouraged to ignore news from fringe conservative sites. For example Breitbart, until it appeared on more mainstream sites such as CNN.
Tom Stocky, the company’s vice president of search, wrote in a Facebook post. “We take these reports extremely seriously. We have found no evidence that the anonymous allegations are true”. He added that what was being alleged would be not be “technically feasible”.
Facebook has strict guidelines for their trending topic reviewers. Reviewers are required to accept topics that reflect real world events, and are instructed to disregard junk or duplicate topics, hoaxes or subjects with insufficient sources.
“Facebook does not allow or advise our reviewers to systematically discriminate against sources of any ideological origin. We’ve designed our tools to make that technically not feasible. At the same time, our reviewers’ actions are logged and reviewed. Violating our guidelines is a fireable offense.”
Gizmodo assumed that Facebook manipulates trends. To ensure that weighty news appears on the list even when there’s little conversation around it. One example given was Black Lives Matter, the American civil rights movement.
“Facebook got a lot of pressure about not having a trending topic for Black Lives Matter.” A former aggregator told Gizmodo, so “they realised it was a problem, and they boosted it in the ordering. They gave it preference over other topics.”
Facebook’s earlier statement about having neutrality guidelines left it unclear whether any contractors hired to curate the trend had potentially violated those rules. But now Stocky’s statement bluntly calls into question the allegations by Gizmodo’s sources.
Stocky also denied that report. “We looked into that charge and found that it is untrue. We do not insert stories artificially into trending topics. We do not instruct our reviewers to do so.”
Breitbart News’s editor in chief, Alex Marlow, said the report confirmed. “What conservatives have long suspected. Facebook’s trending news artificially mutes conservatives and amplifies progressives”.
“Facebook claims that its algorithm simply populates topics that have recently become popular on Facebook’ in its trending news section, but now we know that’s not true.” said Marlow.