Facebook has courted controversy once again, with many a user and social media observer alleging a political bias in the Trending Topics section of the social networking platform.
"Workers prevented stories about the right-wing CPAC gathering, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and other conservative topics from appearing in the highly-influential section, even though they were organically trending among the site's users," Gizmodo quoted a former Faccebook trending topics journalist as saying.
The Gizmodo report also says that news curators were asked to artificially inject stories into the trending section, irrespective of whether they were popular or not. They were also asked not to include stories about Facebook in the section.
The report has sparked alarm across the board, with social media users, journalists and experts slamming Facebook for the alleged bias.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has finally responded on the entire controversy. In a lengthy post, he said:
"I want to share some thoughts on the discussion about Trending Topics.
Facebook stands for giving everyone a voice. We believe the world is better when people from different backgrounds and with different ideas all have the power to share their thoughts and experiences. That's what makes social media unique. We are one global community where anyone can share anything -- from a loving photo of a mother and her baby to intellectual analysis of political events.
To serve our diverse community, we are committed to building a platform for all ideas. Trending Topics is designed to surface the most newsworthy and popular conversations on Facebook. We have rigorous guidelines that do not permit the prioritization of one viewpoint over another or the suppression of political perspectives.
This week, there was a report suggesting that Facebook contractors working on Trending Topics suppressed stories with conservative viewpoints. We take this report very seriously and are conducting a full investigation to ensure our teams upheld the integrity of this product.
We have found no evidence that this report is true. If we find anything against our principles, you have my commitment that we will take additional steps to address it.
In the coming weeks, I'll also be inviting leading conservatives and people from across the political spectrum to talk with me about this and share their points of view. I want to have a direct conversation about what Facebook stands for and how we can be sure our platform stays as open as possible.
The reason I care so much about this is that it gets to the core of everything Facebook is and everything I want it to be. Every tool we build is designed to give more people a voice and bring our global community together. For as long as I'm leading this company this will always be our mission."