Mark Zuckerberg admitted Facebook’s got a problem with conservatives, following a meeting with right-leaning leaders on media bias at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California, on Wednesday.
“I know many conservatives don’t trust that our platform surfaces content without a political bias,” he said in a Facebook post after convening with a dozen prominent conservatives over claims that the company buries right-wing news in its Trending Topics section. TheBlaze founder Glenn Beck and Fox News host Dana Perino were among those invited to take part in the discussion.
“Conservatives and Republicans have always been an important part of Facebook. Donald Trump has more fans on Facebook than any other presidential candidate. And Fox News drives more interactions on its Facebook page than any other news outlet in the world. It’s not even close,” Zuckerberg wrote.
He continued: “Still, I know many conservatives don’t trust that our platform surfaces content without a political bias. I wanted to hear their concerns personally and have an open conversation about how we can build trust. I want to do everything I can to make sure our teams uphold the integrity of our products.”
Invitee S.E. Cupp told CNN that Zuckerberg listened a lot, and while he didn’t speak much, he “was not at all dismissive of the problem” and seemed serious. CNN also reports that the meeting was extended by 15 minutes, with some participants sticking around even longer for more in-depth discussions.
“I think this was a very productive first meeting,” Media Research Center president Brent Bozell said in a statement to TheWrap. “I think Facebook understands there is a problem. And I think that from the very top there is a genuine desire to resolve it … There has been a serious issue of trust within the conservative movement about this issue, but everyone in that room, on both sides, wants to see it restored.”
Last week, The Guardian uncovered internal Facebook files that outline editorial decisions throughout the company’s news operation, including guidelines on how to “inject” and “blacklist” particular stories. The results appeared to eschew conservative outlets.
While many users have been led to believe Facebook’s Trending Topics feature is based on an objective algorithm, the documents revealed that a small editing staff has largely been responsible for what appears in the now-controversial section of the social network’s newsfeed.
The leaked papers popped up after Gizmodo reported claims by former Facebook workers that colleagues prevented conservative topics and publications from appearing in the Trending Topics sidebar next to users’ primary news feeds.
The very next day, the Senate Commerce Committee sent a letter to Zuckerberg requesting information regarding accusations that the social media platform purposely keeps conservative news out of its Trending Topics section.