A Facebook official says the company has found no evidence to back up allegations that Facebook contractors suppressed stories of interest to conservatives in its “Trending” section.
In a Facebook post published early Tuesday, Facebook’s vice-president of search Tom Stocky said, “There are rigorous guidelines in place for the review team to ensure consistency and neutrality,” adding that the guidelines don’t permit political perspectives to be suppressed or one viewpoint or outlet to be prioritized over another.
The post is in response to a report published Monday by Gawker’s Gizmodo blog, which alleged that contractors who worked on Facebook’s trending topics section had purposely blocked conservative media outlets from appearing in the sidebar, which is seen by users all over the world.
According to the report, the contractors blocked stories about “the right-wing CPAC gathering, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and other conservative topics.”
“Depending on who was on shift, things would be blacklisted or trending,” the former curator told Gizmodo. “I’d come on shift and I’d discover that CPAC or Mitt Romney or Glenn Beck or popular conservative topics wouldn’t be trending because either the curator didn’t recognize the news topic or it was like they had a bias against Ted Cruz.”
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“There are rigorous guidelines in place for the review team to ensure consistency and neutrality. These guidelines do not permit the suppression of political perspectives. Nor do they permit the prioritization of one viewpoint over another or one news outlet over another. These guidelines do not prohibit any news outlet from appearing in Trending Topics,” Stocky said.
“Facebook does not allow or advise our reviewers to systematically discriminate against sources of any ideological origin and we’ve designed our tools to make that technically not feasible.”
The curator also alleged that content related to the Black Lives Matter movement was forced into the trending bar, after the company faced pressure for not having a trending topic for Black Lives Matter. Stocky also denied these allegations in his Facebook post.
“We looked into that charge and found that it is untrue. We do not insert stories artificially into trending topics, and do not instruct our reviewers to do so,” he wrote.
— With files from The Associated Press