Commentary

Zuckerberg Launches 'Full Investigation' Into Accusations Of Media Bias

Now that accusations of a liberal media bias don’t seem to be settling, Facebook is launching a “full investigation” into the matter.

That’s according to Mark Zuckerberg, who, in a new post, maintains that Facebook has so far found no evidence to support claims that editors manipulated Trending Topics to suppress conservative content.

Moving forward, “If we find anything against our principles, you have my commitment that we will take additional steps to address it,” Zuckerberg promised.

Playing diplomat, Zuckerberg also extended an olive branch to “leading conservatives and people from across the political spectrum to talk with me.”

Added Zuckerberg: “I want to have a direct conversation about what Facebook stands for and how we can be sure our platform stays as open as possible.”

To its credit, Facebook was quick to address the condemning reports, earlier this week. Tom Stocky, VP of search at the social giant, insisted that the claims of bias were without merit.

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“There are rigorous guidelines in place for the review team to ensure consistency and neutrality,” Stocky said. “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.”

Later in the week, however, The Guardian pointed to leaked documents showing that human editors have plenty of opportunity to fiddle with the placement of news content in Trending Topics.

The report was not exactly inconsistent with Stocky’s description of his team’s protocol, but contributed to a growing sense that Facebook is hiding something.

In this high stakes game of reputation poker, Facebook still has plenty of cards to play.

Reviewers’ actions are logged, as I mentioned last week, so those records could always be released.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, Stocky said Facebook’s review guidelines for Trending Topics are themselves “under constant review” -- which gave Facebook room to wiggle.

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