Facebook said Monday that it found no evidence of a bias against conservative news in its “trending topics” section, in response to an inquiry from a Republican senator.
In a letter and blog post posted Monday, Facebook’s general counsel, Colin Stretch, thanked Senate Commerce Committee Chair John Thune (R-SD) for meeting with him and other Facebook employees last week and detailed the results of the company’s internal investigation into allegations of news bias.
“Our data analysis indicated that conservative and liberal topics are approved as trending topics at virtually identical rates,” Stretch wrote. “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.”
Stretch noted that the investigation couldn’t “exclude the possibility of isolated improper actions or unintentional bias” on the part of the news curators who put together the “trending topics” section.
But in an effort to be more fair, Stretch wrote that Facebook would no longer rely on a list of 10 mainstream media sources to vet news stories, nor assign “importance levels” to certain topics, which an anonymous former employee alleged may have catapulted “Black Lives Matter” into the “trending topics” section.
The latest olive branch extended by Facebook came days after CEO Mark Zuckerberg powwowed with conservative leaders in a meeting pundit Glenn Beck characterized as akin to the “Salem Witch Hunt.”