Facebook CEO Zuckerberg to investigate political bias charges

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has pledged to meet with conservative leaders as his company probes damaging allegations of political bias in how it selects the most important news for its 1.6 billion users.

“This week, there was a report suggesting that Facebook contractors working on Trending Topics suppressed stories with conservative viewpoints,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post. “We take this report very seriously and are conducting a full investigation to ensure our teams upheld the integrity of this product.”

Facebook has found no evidence to back up the claims but Zuckerberg said he would take steps to address problems if any are found.

“In the coming weeks, I’ll also be inviting leading conservatives and people from across the political spectrum to talk with me about this and share their points of view,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday night.

Zuckerberg was the third Facebook executive in less than a week to address the political bias charges that have drawn heated reaction from Capitol Hill.

His statement came after Facebook on Thursday released the editorial guidelines it uses to determine which news articles are featured in its Trending Topics feature. The guidelines appeared to contradict previous statements from company officials on how much influence a small team of news editors has in the process.

Executive Tom Stock said Monday the company does not insert stories “artificially” into the Trending Topics feature but the guidelines clearly state they can. Stocky also said Facebook does not allow the editors to give preference to one news outlet over another but the guidelines show Facebook measures if a news article is legitimate by comparing it to 10 news outlets including USA TODAY, CNN and Fox News.

Justin Osofsky, vice president of Facebook’s global operations, said Thursday the editorial guidelines are “checks and balances” to ensure that news articles featured in Trending Topics are in fact newsworthy.

“Facebook does not allow or advise our reviewers to systematically discriminate against sources of any political origin, period,” Osofsky said in a statement. Facebook released the internal documents after they were leaked to the Guardian.

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