Facebook Offers Political Bias Training In Wake Of Trending Controversy

Image: Facebook
Image: Facebook

Facebook is adding political scenarios to its orientation training following concerns, first reported by Gizmodo, that workers were suppressing conservative topics in its Trending news section.


Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, announced the change during an interview with conservative leader Arthur Brooks, president of the prominent conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute. Brooks also attended a private meeting between Facebook executives and prominent conservative leaders following the controversy.

“We had an ex-contractor on that team who accused us of liberal bias,” Sandberg said during the interview. “Frankly, it rang true to some people because there is concern that Silicon Valley companies have a liberal bias. We did a thorough investigation, and we didn’t find a liberal bias.”


In its response to a recent GOP Senate inquiry about the bias allegations, Facebook said that prior to July 2015, topics could have been omitted from the trending module if they weren’t covered by mainstream news organizations including the New York Times and Buzzfeed. Facebook also did not investigate the full duration of time during which former curators interviewed by Gizmodo actually worked for the company. The company stated that “We could not reconstruct reliable data logs from before December 2014, so were unable to examine each of the reviewer decisions from that period.”

Sandberg emphasized how seriously the company is treating the accusations throughout her interview with Brooks.

“We think a lot about diversity,” she said. It’s something our industry has struggled with. We’ve struggled with. We have a managing bias class that all of our leaders and a lot of our employees have taken. We focused on age bias, racial bias, gender bias, nation bias, and we’re going to add in a scenario now on political bias.”

Despite Facebook’s efforts, the company reported abysmal diversity on its staff in 2015. According to Facebook’s own tally, the company staff is only 2 percent black, 3 percent hispanic, and 32 percent women.


Sandberg ultimately remained optimistic about Facebook’s position as a traffic pipe to digital publishers. “We’re clear about the industry we’re in and the company we’re in,” Sandberg said. “We’re a tech company, we’re not a media company. We’re not trying to hire journalists and we’re not trying to write news.”


Technology editor at Gizmodo.

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I mean. If anyone knows about political bias, it is the American Enterprise Institute.

Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world’s largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today.

Letters sent by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), an ExxonMobil-funded thinktank with close links to the Bush administration, offered the payments for articles that emphasise the shortcomings of a report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Travel expenses and additional payments were also offered. ...

The letters were sent by Kenneth Green, a visiting scholar at AEI, who confirmed that the organisation had approached scientists, economists and policy analysts to write articles for an independent review that would highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the IPCC report.

I mean obviously AEI has the right to disagree with scientific findings. It’s just hilarious that they do so from so blatant a political backing.