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Facebook changes Trending Topics policies after criticism

Gorkha Post

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SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook says it has changed some of the procedures behind its Trending Topics section on Monday, after a news report alleging it suppressed conservative news prompted a US Congressional demand for more transparency.

The social media giant said an internal probe showed no evidence of political bias in the selection of news stories for Trending Topics, a feature that is separate from the main ‘news feed’ where most Facebook users get their news.

But the company said in a blogpost that it was introducing several changes, including elimination of a top-10 list of approved websites, more training and clearer guidelines to help human editors avoid ideological or political bias, and more robust review procedures.

Earlier this month, a former Facebook contractor had accused the company’s editors of deliberately suppressing conservative news. The allegations were reported by technology news website Gizmodo, which did not identify the ex-contractor.

The report led Republican senator John Thune to write a letter demanding that the company explain how it selects news articles for its Trending Topics list. He gave a deadline of May 24.

“Any attempt by a neutral and inclusive social media platform to censor or manipulate political discussion is an abuse of trust and inconsistent with the values of an open internet,” he said.

Two days after Thune’s letter, Facebook published a lengthy blogpost detailing how Trending Topics works even though it rarely discloses such practices.

Previously, it had never discussed the inner workings of the feature, which displays topics and news articles in the top right-hand corner of the desktop homepage for its more than 1.6 billion users.

Facebook said its investigation showed that conservative and liberal topics were approved as trending topics at nearly identical rates.

It said it was unable to substantiate any allegations of politically motivated suppression of particular subjects or sources.

However, it did not rule out human error in selecting topics.

“Our investigation could not fully exclude the possibility of isolated improper actions or unintentional bias in the implementation of our guidelines or policies,” Facebook’s general counsel Colin Stretch said.

Reuters

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CCTV cameras lying idle

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BETRAWATI— The CCTV cameras installed at main market area and road side of Bidur Municipality in Nuwakot are lying idle.

As many as 25 sets of CCTV which were installed on the initiative of Nuwakot Chamber of Commerce and Industry are now dysfunctional.

The cameras were set up at the cost of Rs 3.5 million. The concerned side has not paid any attention to repair the cameras in the public which were helpful in maintaining security in the areas.

Right now almost all the CCTVs installed in the public places are not in functioning condition, said Basanta Kunwar, Superintendant of Police.

The cameras were installed a year ago in collaboration among the Nuwakot District Development Committee, Bidur Municipality, different banks and financial institutions.

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