Facebook's general counsel announced Monday that while Facebook was "unable to substantiate" allegations of "politically motivated suppression of particular subjects or sources" in its Trending Topics feature, the company is changing some of its policies to "minimize risks where human judgment is involved."
Facebook leaders met with prominent conservatives and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, last week after unidentified former Facebook workers in charge of curating Trending Topics alleged in Gizmodo that they and their coworkers suppressed conservative articles. General counsel Colin Stretch wrote on Monday that an investigation by the company has "revealed no evidence of systematic political bias in the selection or prominence of stories included in the Trending Topics feature. Our data analysis indicated that conservative and liberal topics are approved as trending topics at virtually identical rates."
Because the investigation could not "fully exclude the possibility of isolated improper actions or unintentional bias in the implementation of our guidelines or policies," Stretch said, Facebook will now stop relying on certain websites and news outlets to "identify, validate, or assess the importance of particular topics," and will expand the Help Center content on Trending Topics. "We will continue to work to improve the feature, as well as to seek feedback from people who use our service to make sure we keep Facebook a platform for all ideas," he added.