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Facebook says an investigation of its trending topics finds “no evidence of systematic political bias”

FILE - In this June 11, 2014, file photo, a man walks past a mural in an office on the Facebook campus in Menlo Park, Calif. On Thursday, May 12, 2016, Facebook pulled back the curtain on how its Trending Topics feature works, a reaction to a report that suggested Facebook downplays conservative news subjects. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
A glimpse into Facebook’s trending topics.
By Alice Truong

Deputy editor

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Facebook just wrapped up its investigation into trending topics on the social network, and concludes there was “no evidence of systematic political bias,” according to a letter its lawyer sent to the US Senate.

On May 9, Gizmodo published allegations that contractors employed by Facebook to select stories for its trending topics regularly censored conservative news stories. Both Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and vice president of search Tom Stocky have adamantly refuted the claims in the article.

Zuckerberg promised an investigation after a US Senate committee wrote to him inquiring how trending topics work. The company’s findings were summarized in a letter sent today (May 23) to John Thune, who chairs the Senate’s committee on commerce, science, and transportation.

“[W]e were unable to substantiate any of the specific allegations of politically-motivated suppression of subjects or sources, as reported in the media,” wrote Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch. He added that the approval rates for conservative and liberal topics were “virtually identical in Trending Topics,” pointing to examples when Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mitt Romney were selected as topics.

Regardless, Facebook said it will add new oversight protocols for trending topics and make its reviewers go through updated training.

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