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May 24, 2016

May 24, 2016 | News Releases on

Facebook Needs to Live Up to Its Promise to Be a Platform for All Ideas

On Monday, Facebook responded to an inquiry from Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune, R-S.D., following allegations that the social media giant exhibited anti-conservative bias in its handling of news content.

"Facebook's decision to provide greater transparency is helpful, but it can't stop here,"  said Rob Bluey, vice president of publishing at The Heritage Foundation, editor in chief of The Daily Signal and one of the conservative leaders who attended last week's meeting with Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

"Conservative media outlets, including The Daily Signal, have experienced unusual patterns of traffic and engagement over the past two years. That's led some of us to question if the large communities we've built on Facebook are actually seeing the content we share with them."

At last week's meeting in Menlo Park, Calif., Bluey asked Zuckerberg about the lack of conservative news sources on the various lists Facebook uses to determine stories in the Trending Topics section. Bluey said he was encouraged that Facebook will now discontinue those lists. 

"Many conservatives have lost faith in Facebook and simply don't trust the platform to be fair," Bluey said. "Eliminating these lists that were stacked with liberal-leaning media outlets is a positive step. Now Facebook needs to ensure that whatever mechanism it puts in place doesn't suppress conservative outlets.

"With its reach of more than 1 billion users, Facebook has the ability to shape news here in America and across the globe," Bluey added. "Conservatives should expect an unbiased and unfiltered platform that's consistent with Facebook's own promise to be a platform for all ideas.

"Facebook's internal investigation is an encouraging step and another indication that Mark Zuckerberg takes the allegations against Facebook seriously," said Bluey, whose team oversees digital strategy for Heritage. "Just as last week's meeting was the start of a long-overdue conversation with Facebook, this investigation should be a recognition by Facebook that more needs to be done to regain the trust of conservatives."

The allegations against Facebook first surfaced in a Gizmodo article on May 9, prompting the company to launch an internal investigation of the Trending Topics feature on the social network. Colin Stretch, Facebook's general counsel, acknowledged in Monday's letter to Thune that contractors played a role in the selection of content and the potential for bias did exist. Facebook concluded, however, that there was "no evidence of systematic political bias in the selection or prominence of stories included in the Trending Topics feature." The company promised to make changes to avoid problems in the future.

VIDEO: Bluey on CNBC's Squawk on the Street, discussing changes to their Trending Topics guidelines.

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