Facebook altering makeup of Trending Topics amid censorship reportsBy Robin-Leigh Chetty 24 May 2016 | Categories: news
Earlier this month, a report from Gizmodo courtesy of an unnamed former employee at Facebook, noted that employees actively censored news stories from conservative websites in the States for its Trending Topics feed. Facebook denied the charges, but has now brought about changes regarding the makeup of its Trending Topics feed.
The company states that its news department will no longer rely upon a curated list of top 10 websites for its feed, which used to comprise of The New York Times, CNN and The Washington Post to name a few. Added to this, Facebook is doing away with a list of as many as 1000 websites it uses to access the credibility and popularity of news stories. Furthermore, the use of RSS feeds as part of its Trending Topics algorithm is also being halted.
These recent moves also address the concerns raised by Chairman of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, John Thune. Facebook's Legal Counsel, Colin Stretch, posted a statement on Facebook to detail their recent dealings with Thune, where the company's own investigation into the matter found no evidence to support Gizmodo's claims.
"Our investigation has revealed no evidence of systematic political bias in the selection or prominence of stories included in the Trending Topics feature. Our data analysis indicated that conservative and liberal topics are approved as trending topics at virtually identical rates. 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," notes Stretch.
While Facebook has openly stated its reviewers cannot suppress news stories, the company's recent actions are a clear move to create a greater air of transparency. Whether or not, it has in fact done so, remains to be seen.
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