Facebook Internal Investigation Found ‘No Evidence’ of Political Bias

Social media company promises improvements to Trending Topics section to “minimize risks where human judgment is involved”

Last Updated: June 16, 2016 @ 4:09 PM

Facebook’s internal investigation of its Trending Topics section has found “no evidence” of a political bias in the selection of stories, the company said on Monday.

In a response to U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune, the social media giant claimed that its analysis of the feature found that “conservative and liberal topics” are featured equally.

“We were also unable to substantiate any of the specific allegations of politically-motivated suppression of particular subjects or sources,” Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch wrote. “In fact, we confirmed that most of the subjects mentioned in media reports were included as trending topics on multiple occasions.”

After reports surfaced earlier this month that former Facebook staffers would suppress conservative stories from the site’s Trending Topics sidebar, Thune, a Republican from South Dakota who is chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, signed a letter asking the company to provide more information about how featured news stories are selected.

The company’s full response, which describes the organization of the section as well as the investigation, can be read here.

Though the investigation found no political bias, the company also outlined a few imminent changes that will “improve our products and to minimize risks where human judgment is involved.”

In addition to providing clearer guidelines and training for employees, the company will also no longer use external sites to “identify, validate or assess the importance of particular topics.”

“These improvements and safeguards are designed not only to ensure that Facebook remains a platform that is open and welcoming to all groups and individuals, but also to restore any loss of trust in the Trending Topics feature,” the company wrote.

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