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There’s ‘no evidence’ Facebook suppressed conservative news, Mark Zuckerberg says

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg gives the keynote address at the F8 Facebook Developer Conference in April in San Francisco.
(Eric Risberg / AP Photo)

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg says the company will conduct an investigation into allegations it suppressed conservative news, but has found “no evidence” the accusation are true.

In a post on the social network Thursday night, Zuckerberg said the trending topics section, which appears at the upper right side of a user’s Facebook page, is “designed to surface the most newsworthy and popular conversations on Facebook.” He said the company has “rigorous guidelines” to ensure that one viewpoint is not prioritized over another and that political perspectives are not suppressed.

“Every tool we build is designed to give more people a voice and bring our global community together,” Zuckerberg wrote. “If we find anything against our principles, you have my commitment that we will take additional steps to address it.”

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The Menlo Park firm has come under fire after technology site Gizmodo reported that Facebook contractors were instructed to choose articles from preferred media organizations such as the New York Times or the BBC and downplay stories from conservative-leaning sites or news about Republican leaders.

Facebook has said popular news topics surface first through an algorithm and then are checked by staff for veracity. Tom Stocky, the company’s vice president of search who oversees the trending topics team, said in a post Monday that the company does not artificially insert stories and does not instruct its employees to do so.

On Thursday, the Guardian published Facebook’s guidelines for staff on how to review trending topics. Those guidelines showed how to “inject” stories into the module and how to test the “editorial authority” of a trending story by checking whether they appear on at least five of 10 major news sites, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Fox News and CNN.

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In his post, Zuckerberg said he will invite leading conservatives and people with varying political viewpoints to share their thoughts with him about the issue.

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samantha.masunaga@latimes.com

For more business news, follow me @smasunaga


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