Former Facebook employees said the social media platform has "routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers," Gizmodo reported Monday.
Gizmodo reported that "several former Facebook news curators" said that stories about Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, the right-wing CPAC gathering and other conservative topics were filtered and sometimes ignored altogether from Facebook's Trending Topics section, which appears on the upper right-hand corner of user's home pages.
Those sources said they were also instructed to "inject" certain stories into the trending section, even if they weren't viral or popular stories and to block any news about Facebook itself in the trending section.
"Depending on who was on shift, things would be blacklisted or trending," one former Facebook curator told Gizmodo's Michael Nunez. "I’d come on shift and I’d discover that CPAC or Mitt Romney or Glenn Beck or popular conservative topics wouldn’t be trending because either the curator didn’t recognize the news topic or it was like they had a bias against Ted Cruz."
"In other words, Facebook’s news section operates like a traditional newsroom, reflecting the biases of its workers and the institutional imperatives of the corporation," Gizmodo reported.
A Facebook spokesperson later denied the allegations.
"We take allegations of bias very seriously. Facebook is a platform for people and perspectives from across the political spectrum," the spokesperson told Buzzfeed. "Trending Topics shows you the popular topics and hashtags that are being talked about on Facebook. There are rigorous guidelines in place for the review team to ensure consistency and neutrality. These guidelines do not permit the suppression of political perspectives. Nor do they permit the prioritization of one viewpoint over another or one news outlet over another. These guidelines do not prohibit any news outlet from appearing in Trending Topics."
The Trending Topics section on Facebook is different for everyone; the stories that appear are generated by where the user lives, what the user routinely searches and other factors. Facebook uses an algorithm to surface popular topics at any given time, and a team of curators then tailors the list to meet particular standards.
Gizmodo did not name any of the former Facebook employees that served as sources for its story. And it acknowledged that it's unclear whether the biased filtering is still happening.