In response to the controversy over a report that Facebook underplayed conservative issues and news in its Trending Topics, the company announced some tweaks to its selection process and said that an internal investigation had found “no evidence of systematic political bias.” In a 12-page letter to Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today, Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch said that liberal and conservative topics were approved at “virtually identical rates.” And it announced some changes to its process, saying that Trending Topics team members:
• Will no longer rely on external websites and news outlets, via its Media 1K list of RSS feeds, “to identify, validate or assess the importance of particular topics.”
• Will only rely on Facebook’s internal data to make selections
• Will only use chatter on Facebook to “surface trending topics and all topics will now be assigned the same level of importance,” a spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal.
• Will conduct refresher training for all reviewers that “emphasized that content decisions may not be made on the basis of politics or ideology.”
• Will institute “additional controls and oversight around the review team, including robust escalation procedures.”MB