Facebook today finally responded to an inquiry from Senate Republicans into alleged suppression of conservative news. In a blog post today, Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch said they spoke with John Thune, the head of the Senate Commerce Committee, last week, and made it clear to emphasize that “suppressing political content or preventing people from seeing what matters most to them is directly contrary to our mission and our business objectives and the allegations troubled us deeply.”
Facebook quickly conducted an internal investigation into the matter, speaking with pretty much everyone involved in the Trending Topics process and examining all the relevant data.
And this was what they concluded:
Our investigation has revealed no evidence of systematic political bias in the selection or prominence of stories included in the Trending Topics feature. Our data analysis indicated that conservative and liberal topics are approved as trending topics at virtually identical rates.
Yes, apparently specific right-leaning stories mentioned as topics that were left out… actually weren’t, and they “were included as trending topics on multiple occasions.”
Facebook still met with a bunch of conservatives earlier this month, and at least one of them was satisfied and expressed some concern about how much the interrogations from others resembled an evidence-free “witch trial.”
That being said, Stretch acknowledged potential “unconscious bias” that they’re taking steps to address, including “refresher training for all reviewers that emphasized that content decisions may not be made on the basis of politics or ideology.”
Facebook is also going to stop relying on certain lists that “assess the importance of particular topics.”
[image via screengrab]
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