After a deluge of criticism over allegations that Facebook suppresses conservative news, CEO Mark Zuckerberg extended the olive branch to several prominent conservatives whose opinions and outlets were shut out of the social media site.
When Gizmodo’s report received massive attention and backlash, Zuckerberg knew he had to take swift actions.
The billionaire invited conservative radio host Glenn Beck, Fox News contributor Mary Katharine Ham, former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, Tucker Carlson, The Daily Caller’’ editor-in-chief, and others to a meeting in California, and afterward posted a note on Facebook saying they talked “about how we can make sure Facebook continues to be a platform for all ideas across the political spectrum.”
“I know many conservatives don’t trust that our platform surfaces content without a political bias,” Zuckerberg wrote. “I wanted to hear their concerns personally and have an open conversation about how we can build trust. I want to do everything I can to make sure our teams uphold the integrity of our products … It’s important that Facebook remains a platform for all ideas and that we continue to give every person a voice.”
Media Research Center President Brent Bozell, who attended the Wednesday meeting, later issued a statement saying that it was a “very productive” first meeting.
“I think Facebook understands there is a problem. And I think that from the very top there is a genuine desire to resolve it,” Bozell said. “There were good exchanges and overall it was cordial. We’ll see how the investigation turns out. There has been a serious issue of trust within the conservative movement about this issue, but everyone in that room, on both sides, wants to see it restored.”
Dana Perino, co-host of Fox News Channel’s “The Five” and another meeting attendee, said she was encouraged following her meeting with Zuckerberg.
“I found them to be pretty genuine and sincere, and that they acknowledge they have a trust problem with a significant portion of their customer base, and that they were trying to figure out a way – at least a first step — to open a dialogue so that they can try to fix it in the long run,” Perino said on Fox News’ “The Kelly File.”
Although Donald Trump aide Barry Bennett took to Twitter to praise the “great meeting” and “first step” Facebook took to openly address the issues, he added that there was still “more work to be done!”
In bringing to the forefront of national coverage the issue of defining social media’s role in this politically polarized age, Facebook’s suppression scandal shows that a significant portion of the American people do not want the personal political biases of those in power to determine which stories are promoted for public consumption and which are actively censored.
The social media platform came under fire last week when a report published on Gizmodo surfaced, claiming that Facebook employees actively and purposefully censored articles from conservative media outlets and personalities.
Because Facebook’s “trending” stories section does not rely solely upon an algorithm, employees with that department can use their own judgment to “inject” or “blacklist” certain topics for various reasons, CNN Money noted. The site’s manual, however, does not include “political content” as a reason to censor a story. So when Gizmodo’s report received massive attention and backlash, Zuckerberg knew he had to take swift action.