Facebook says that it doesn’t suppress 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 allegations of bias very seriously,” Facebook later told Gizmodo 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 prioritisation 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. 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.
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.
Here’s what the trending tab looks like: