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.
PM congratulates Nepali national cricket team
KATHMANDU— Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has congratulated Nepali national cricket team for being able to clinch the International T20 series.
PM Oli in a tweet extended best wishes and congratulations saying he was very happy to know Nepal’s win over the UAE by 14 runs in the third match of the series.
Winning T20 series is another landmark success for Nepali cricket, he said, adding, “It is big achievement for Nepal’s cricket. I would like to heartily congratulate entire members of Nepali cricket squad”.