The US Senate’s commerce committee—which oversees issues pertaining to consumer protection and media regulation—has sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in response to allegations that the social-media platform has censored media from conservative news sources.
The letter was sent on May 10 and published by Gizmodo, which broke the initial story. It asks the company to explain the mechanisms behind its news curation efforts.
Please describe Facebook’s organization structure for the Trending Topics feature, and the steps for determining included topics. Who is ultimately responsible for approving its content?
Have Facebook news curators in fact manipulated the content of the Trending Topics section, either by targeting news stories related to conservative views for exclusion or by injecting non-trending content?
What steps is Facebook taking to investigate claims of politically motivated manipulation of news stories in the Trending Topics section? If such claims are substantiated, what steps will Facebook take to hold the responsible individuals accountable?
Signed by committee chairman John Thune, a Republican senator from South Dakota, it also requests that Facebook “arrange [its] staff including employees responsible for trending topics to brief committee staff on this issue.”
“Facebook must answer these serious allegations and hold those responsible to account if there has been political bias in the dissemination of trending news,” Thune said in a statement. “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.”