Facebook has responded to allegations that its contract news curators actively censored news from conservative publications when selecting which stories appear in its Trending Topics section. In a statement given to BuzzFeed News, the company does not actively deny that members of its news operation were censoring stories from right-wing outlets like Breitbart and The Drudge Report. However, Facebook did say that it does not “permit the suppression of political perspectives” and has never banned a news outlet from appearing in the Trending Topics bar.
“We take allegations of bias very seriously. Facebook is a platform for people and perspectives from across the political spectrum,” the statement reads. “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 f one viewpoint over another or one news outlet over another. The guidelines do not prohibit any news outlet from appearing in Trending Topics.”
FACEBOOK DOES NOT “PERMIT THE SUPPRESSION OF POLITICAL PERSPECTIVES.”
Facebook’s claims are a direct response to interviews with anonymous former employees featured in a Gizmodo report earlier today. Several of those employees say there told to place stories from mainstream outlets in the Trending Topics list that were not in fact trending at all or were not popular enough to be flagged by Facebook’s algorithms. Meanwhile, stories from conservative outlets were actively passed over even when Facebook’s algorithms deemed them trending.
Gizmodo explicitly stated that it was unclear whether Facebook management was ever aware of any political bias among its contract news curators. However, the report has generated significant controversy around Facebook’s editorial values when deciding which news sources to serve to its more than 1.65 billion users, many of whom now use the social network as a primary source of information.