Facebook publishes letter to Sen. Thune over Trending bias accusations

Brittany A. Roston - May 25, 2016, 4:08 pm CDT
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Facebook publishes letter to Sen. Thune over Trending bias accusations

Remember the hoopla around Facebook’s alleged ‘Trending’ section news bias, something that arose from a report citing anonymous sources? Facebook has since published its editorial process concerning the section, and even talked with conservatives including Glenn Beck, who recently stated that he felt the social network was being honest. Before all of this, though, Republican Senator John Thune fired off an upset letter demanding answers from Facebook; this week, the social network has responded.

In a statement on Monday, Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch said Facebook met with Thune last week to discuss its own investigation into the Trending Topics nonsense. That was followed up by a letter Facebook has sent him (read it here) in which it has described what it found and the conclusions it has made.

The letter is quite long, and points out a bunch of specific instances in which conservative news and conservative politicians were featured in the Trending section, including things like “#GOPDebate”, the Donald Trump topic, topics revolving around CPAC, a few instances of Glenn Beck being featured, and more.

The matter can be put to rest, as the report hinged on very little and Facebook has gone to great lengths to shed light on the process. Be sure to check out the letter if you’re interested in the full details, but they can be neatly summed up thusly:

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. We were also unable to substantiate any of the specific allegations of politically-motivated suppression of particular subjects or sources. In fact, we confirmed that most of the subjects mentioned in media reports were included as trending topics on multiple occasions.

SOURCE: Facebook


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