Facebook rubbishes ‘biased trending topics’ reports amid social media uproar

Facebook has denied workers routinely censor certain stories to prevent them from appearing on its “trending” list. The website said there was no evidence to support claims by one anonymous alleged former editor. Gizmodo reported on Monday a former Facebook employee told it workers “routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers”. The news website said staff responsible for what was shown to Facebook’s 1.6bn users frequently chose to bury articles they did not agree with, sparking a social media uproar.

Aside from fueling right-wing persecution, this is a key reminder of dangers of Silicon Valley controlling content.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald

“Well, you go to Hell, Facebook,” tweeted Kyle Feldscher, a reporter at the Washington Examiner, a conservative-leaning publication. "For anyone who cares about press freedom, this is frightening stuff,“ tweeted Bloomberg Editor Bill Grueskin, with a link to Gizmodo’s story. A post on Facebook’s help center said that the "trending” section of the site “shows you topics that have recently become popular on Facebook.” It lists “engagement, timeliness, Pages you’ve liked and your location” as some of the factors that determine what trends show up for each Facebook user. Facebook can manually add and remove topics from the list. Facebook’s head of search Tom Stocky has now posted a flat denial of any politically motivated manipulation.

Facebook does not allow or advise our reviewers to systematically discriminate against sources of any ideological origin and we’ve designed our tools to make that technically not feasible.

Facebook’s Tom Stocky