Facebook Denies Blocking Right Wing Political News

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Social media giant has been accused of hiding conservative opinions in its Trending Topics news feed

Facebook has denied it is politically biased after allegations that the site prevented certain political opinions being shown online.

An investigation into what stories were shown in the site’s ‘Trending Topics’ feed claims that staff responsible for the content often chose to bury stories they did not agree with.

The report by Gizmodo said that right-wing stories, particularly concerning American politics, were the most affected by the issue, which comes as the country continues its bitterly-fought Presidential campaign.

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FacebookFacebook has struck back against the allegations, with the company’s head of search Tom Stocky saying that the site “found no evidence that the anonymous allegations are true”.

“We take these reports extremely seriously,” Stocky said. “There are rigorous guidelines in place for the review team to ensure consistency and neutrality.”

Stocky emphasised that Trending Topics is designed to display highlights of “the current conversation happening on Facebook”, with popular topics are first found by an algorithm, then audited by review team members to confirm that the topics are in fact trending news in the real world and not, for example, similar-sounding topics or misnomers.

However Gizmodo’s source, who claimed to be a former editor of Facebook Trending Topics, said that the staff were told to seek out stories with a clearly stated political bias that would be published on mainstream sites such as the BBC ahead of publications – even if the original source was from a smaller website.

If a number of the larger “mainstream” media sites covered a particular story, the source said that Facebook would elevate it immediately to the Trending Topic column, even if few of its users were actually talking about it.

Facebook’s political stance has come under questioning in recent weeks, after founder Mark Zuckerberg publicly denounced the policies of likely Republican nominee Donald Trump.

“I hear fearful voices calling for building walls and distancing people they label as ‘others.’,” Zuckerbeg said at Facebook’s recent developers conference.

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