Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is meeting with conservatives, including radio host Glenn Beck, to discuss claims that its “trending topics” feature is biased against their viewpoints.
The Wednesday meeting also includes American Enterprise Institute president Arthur Brooks, Tea Party Patriots CEO Jenny Beth Martin and also Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, which says its “sole mission is to expose and neutralize the propaganda arm of the Left: the national news media.”
Zuckerberg invited the dozen or so conservatives after a report in the tech blog Gizmodo claimed that Facebook downplays conservative news subjects on its trending feature. Facebook denies that report, which relied upon a single anonymous individual with self-described conservative leanings.
Nonetheless, Zuckerberg said the Menlo Park, California, company is investigating the matter.
“We have rigorous guidelines that do not permit the prioritization of one viewpoint over another or the suppression of political perspectives,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post last week.
Bozell said in a release that he looks forward to talking to Zuckerberg and Facebook “because, as I'll explain to them, no one knows more about liberal bias in the media than we do. We have been documenting and exposing it for almost 30 years. Facebook has a serious problem.”
Facebook's Trending Topics are most visible on the desktop version of the social network, although it is possible to access them on mobile too.
On browsers, the topics appear on the top right corner, separate from the news feed containing updates from your friends and family. On mobile devices, users can tap on the search bar to see the top trends, but they can't see separate categories.
Facebook says software formulas identify trending topics, and humans review them “to confirm that the topics are in fact trending news in the real world and not, for example, similar-sounding topics or misnomers.”
Topics that appear as trending can have a self-fulfilling effect, as more Facebook readers see and share the items, and other news organizations decide to write their own stories.