Facebook responds to Senate inquiry on Trending Topics
Facebook has made some significant changes in Trending Topics after claims were made that content was being kept from high-profile visibility.
The allegations regarding Facebook potentially manipulating the Trending Topics have caused quite a stir, and the story isn’t over.
After the US Senate Commerce Committee launched its own inquiry into the matter, it became imperative for the social network to respond. By the time the government inquiry was made, almost immediately after the news came to light, Facebook was in the midst of its own investigation into the anonymous allegations and has continued to be proactive, inviting conservatives and others all over the political spectrum to engage in a dialogue with staffers.
Today, Colin Stretch, Facebook’s General Counsel, posted that Facebook also met with Chairman of the US Senate Committee John Thune to address the open issues of the inquiry that was opened two weeks ago.
Much of what was said to Chairman Thune is what we’ve heard already. Facebook’s mission is to allow people to see what is most important to them, so this would go against all the site stands for. As a platform that is open to all ideas, stifling any type of voice would be of great concern, which is why an investigation was immediately launched upon the news of this potential issue.
As part of the investigation, Facebook has been in constant contact with reviewers, both former and current, supervisors of the reviewing team and contractors. Documentation and training was carefully reviewed. Facebook has come up with no evidence of any wrongdoing to date, with a “data analysis [that] indicated that conservative and liberal topics are approved as trending topics at virtually identical rates.” In fact, it was established that many of the trending topics that somehow were said to be left off the Trending Topics had trended in the past, so there was no grounds for the claim that they weren’t being featured.
To avoid any other issues regarding the Trending Topics, Facebook has been working to update its guidelines and send employees involved in the curation of the Trending Topics to refresher training courses. The company will implement oversight around the team responsible for the visibility of these topics, which includes managing escalations. Further enhancements include using different sources for Trending Topics validation, and not the “Media 1K” list used in the past, removing the “importance level” for a topic and updating the Help Center to shed light into how content is being chosen for Trending Topics.