Facebook addresses reports that they censored trending topicsBy Robin-Leigh Chetty 10 May 2016 | Categories: news
Yesterday, Gizmodo posted an exclusive story following an interview with a former journalist who worked for Facebook's News platform. The article stated that several news curators working for Facebook actively suppressed conservative stories from the platform's Trending section. Since the article was published, Facebook has issued several statements to sites in the US outlining the fact that the company has not instructed its news curators to suppress any "political perspectives".
A company spokesperson told The Verge that it has never banned a news outlet from appearing in the Trending topics section of its news feed. That said, The Verge did stress that Facebook did not deny that members of the company were actively censoring stories from conservative outlets like Breitbart and The Drudge Report.
Facebook also offered a similar response to the allegations to Buzzfeed News. "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. The guidelines do not prohibit any news outlet from appearing in Trending Topics."
While South African Facebook users are not immediately affected by the suppression of conservative news outlets, if this Gizmodo is in fact true, it brings into question the neutrality of Facebook's role in reporting the news to its users. At the moment, Gizmodo has stated that it is unconfirmed whether Facebook execs were aware of the censorship situation. As such, this is an ongoing story that still requires greater clarity from both sides.
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