The Facebook company commented on the scandal surrounding materials about the political bias of the social network. Previously, the media reported that the popular news service company specifically avoided news about the Republican Party, thus promoting the position of the democratic.
Update for May 12: The Guardian received an internal document confirming that the Trending News section is the obsolete news selected by the moderators from the major media. Employees of the social network were recommended to label as “important” only materials that were found in at least 5 of the 10 most popular publications in the US and the UK, including BBC News, CNN, Fox News, The Guardian, NBC News, The New York Times, USATODAY, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Yahoo News.
On May 10, the vice president of Facebook search, Tom Stocky (Tom Stocky), said on the page that his team “did not find any evidence” that Trending Topics really had a preponderance toward the conservative party. According to Stocky, manual manipulation is “technically unworkable.”
We have strict instructions for moderators of popular news processing algorithmically selected topics: they are required to include topics that reflect events in the real world in the list, and to avoid junk or repetitive news, fakes or unverified data.
Facebook does not allow and does not recommend our moderators to systematically discriminate sources of any ideological origin, and we have developed tools in a way that is technically unworkable. At the same time, the actions of our moderators are recorded and also processed, and violation of the rules threatens to be fired.
One of the former employees of Trending Topics said in an interview with Gizmodo that his team had to constantly remove news about the Republican Party from the tape. So from the section news disappeared about Republican conferences and their candidates (Rende Paul and Mitte Romney), the materials of the pro-republican news aggregator, articles about other party members, while the algorithm marked them as virally popular. According to the former employee (Republican for political views), the reason was that other journalists either did not consider these materials important enough, or were initially set up prodemocratic.
Other former employees confirmed that sometimes they manually added some news to the list of popular ones. As a result, the reality did not match the description of the service, in which there was no description of the moderation process, the publication noted.
According to Gizmodo, who interviewed several former employees of the team Trending Topics, Facebook tried to hide their existence and did not apply to the project in order to maintain neutrality in the public field. If it turned out that the news is collected by a team of ideologically-minded employees, social networks might be suspected of bias. According to former team members, Facebook’s ultimate goal is to fully robotize the news tape, eliminating the human factor.