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Are Facebook's Trending Topics Unfair?


 In this March 15, 2013, photo, a Facebook employee walks past a sign at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.

In this March 15, 2013, photo, a Facebook employee walks past a sign at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.

This is What’s Trending Today…

Former Facebook workers said this week that the social media company often avoided letting news popular among conservative Americans appear in its “Trending” section.

The former workers told the website Gizmodo that they were told to select stories to include in the Trending list, even if those stories were not actually trending. The former workers also said they were told not to include topics about Facebook itself into the trending list.

One of the former workers told Gizmodo that the policies “had a chilling effect on conservative news.” Another accused Facebook of being biased in its selection of trending topics.

The controversy did become the No. 1 trending topic on Facebook for part of the day Monday. Many Facebook users were surprised that the company permitted the discussion to even appear in its Trending section.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that a Facebook official said the company has found no evidence to support the former workers’ claims. Tom Stocky, a company vice president, wrote in a Facebook post that the company does not permit political views to be suppressed.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee chairperson has sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The chair, John Thune, is a Republican. In the letter, he asked Zuckerberg to respond to several questions about the company’s alleged practice of suppressing conservative news.

And that’s What’s Trending Today.

I’m Ashley Thompson.

Ashley Thompson wrote this report with materials from Gizmodo and the Associated Press. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

chilling effect - n. a discouraging effect

biased - adj. having or showing an unfair tendency to believe that some people, ideas, etc., are better than others

suppress - v. to keep (something) secret : to not allow people to know about or see (something)

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