Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he wants to invite “conservative leaders and people from across the political spectrum” to discuss recent reports that the characteristic of “Trending Topics” is biased against conservatives.
The social networking giant on Thursday revealed details of how the “Trending Topics” feature works after the Gizmodo technology blog reported that Facebook remains a subject of conservative news importance. Facebook denied the report, which was based on a single anonymous source with conservative leanings describes himself.
Zuckerberg said the company is investigating the claims, but has yet to find evidence to support them.
“If you find something against our principles, you have my commitment that we will take additional steps to address it,” he wrote.
In a separate blog, the company said a series of checks and balances – involving the two formulas software and humans – ensures that the stories in the “current issues” section are not biased. The post linked to an internal document of 28 pages of Facebook used to determine the themes of fashion, after the Guardian published a similar document that was leaked to it.
Justin Osofsky, vice president of global operations, said the guidelines ensure that the stories trending topics represent “the most important folk tales, regardless of where they fall on the ideological spectrum.”
“The guidelines do not allow contributors to add or delete political views,” he said in a statement.
Zuckerberg also took to Facebook on Thursday night, saying the company social media means “to give everyone a voice” and said he plans to talk with conservative leaders in the coming weeks.
“I want to have a direct conversation about what Facebook means and how we can be sure of our platform remains as open as possible,” said his position.
Facebook has not said how many people are responsible for the team trending topics. A report by The Guardian on Thursday said the team was only 12 people, citing leaked documents.
Facebook did not comment on that number.
The trend function was introduced in 2014 and appears to the right of the news feed of Facebook. According to Facebook, the possible topics of trends are determined firstly by a software formula, or algorithm, which identifies the issues that are soaring in popularity on the site.
Employees reviewed possible issues and confirm that they are tied to a current news; write a description of the subject with the information corroborated by at least three of 1,000 news agencies; apply a label category with the subject; and check to see if the topic is covered by most or all of the ten major media (including The New York Times, Fox News, BuzzFeed and others). Stories covered by these outlets earn a level of importance that may make them more likely to be seen.
(List of 1,000 Facebook news agencies conservative contains several popular sites, including Fox, the Drudge Report, the site of Glenn Beck’s Blaze, the Daily Caller and the Washington Times.)
trending topics each user of Facebook are then customized through an algorithm that is based on information about the user, such as “like” and its location.