Facebook has responded to allegations of its trending section being biased. In a recent report by technology blog, Gizmodo, journalists working for Facebook’s trends section alleged that they were routinely told to suppress news related to conservative parties. In response, Facebook, in a statement to the media, said, “We take allegations of bias very seriously. Facebook is a platform for people and perspectives from across the political spectrum. Trending Topics shows you the popular topics and hashtags that are being talked about on Facebook. 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 of one viewpoint over another or one news outlet over another. These guidelines do not prohibit any news outlet from appearing in Trending Topics.”
Speaking of guidelines that are in place to avoid biases on Facebook’s trending section, the company ignored questions from us earlier, on how it accounts for a News Curator’s biases. While Facebook’s statement does refute the claims made by Gizmodo’s sources, it really brings us to the same question all over again — can you take Facebook’s word for it?
The world’s largest social network has over the years become one of the most popular sources of news for its users. Research data from various outlets have shown that Facebook and Twitter are chief news sources for most people. In fact, many media outlets have also taken to these channels to disseminate information, instead of depending on more traditional means.
This gives Facebook the unique position to actually control the news that you read or see. While the company’s statement says that it does not violate your trust, the question that Facebook really needs to answer is why one should trust it. Can Facebook prove that its trending section isn’t biased by its employees?
Facebook’s answer to Gizmodo’s report not only comes late, but doesn’t really refute the allegations made by the sources.