- REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
Facebook says that it has guidelines to prevent its employees from suppressing any political views or new sources in its “trending” news section.
The company’s denial comes in the wake of a new report from Gizmodo where several former news “curators” said that the team routinely omitted right-wing news sources from the trending section on the social network’s right rail.
“We take these reports extremely seriously, and have found no evidence that the anonymous allegations are true,” Facebook told Business Insider in a statement.
“Facebook is a platform for people and perspectives from across the political spectrum. Trending Topics show you the poplar topics and hashtags that are being talked about on Facebook. There are rigorous guidelines in place for the review team to ensure consistency and neutrality. These guidelines do not permit the suppression of political perspectives. Nor do the permit the prioritization of one viewpoint over another or one news outlet over another. These guidelines do not prohibit any news outlet from appearing in Trending Topics.”
Facebook has previously said that trending topics are surfaced by an algorithm that identifies items that have recently spiked in popularity on Facebook, after which its “review team” writes the descriptions and picks photos for each post.
You can read Facebook’s full statement below:
Gizmodo’s sources basically paint a team of human editors as having much more of a hands-on role in deciding what stories make the cut, though.
“It was absolutely bias,” one source said. “We were doing it subjectively. It just depends on who the curator is and what time of day it is.”
The biggest take-away from the whole back and forth: The trending news section isn’t based purely on an algorithm.
Gizmodo first highlighted that fact in a report last week but it’s an important thing to remember at a time when more than half of all Facebook users consider the site a news source and when it would be easy to assume that the trending tab really did have completely mathematical objectivity, only surfacing the most-read stories on the site.
Here’s what the trending tab looks like: