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Facebook Makes Changes after 'Trending Topics' Investigation

05-24-2016

Facebook says it will no longer count on news outlets to help determine what gets posted as a "trending topic," according to the Associated Press

This move stems from a report by Gizmodo that said Facebook downplays conservative news topics for its trending feature. 

On Monday, Facebook's General Counsel Colin Stretch sent a 12-page letter outlining the changes to Republican Sen. John Thune, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees the Internet and consumer protections. 

As part of its new policy, Facebook has decided it will no longer look to sources like the Wall Street Journal, the Huffington Post, or the Drudge Report to auto-nominate topics for the trending feature section. 

The decision comes less than a week after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with several top conservative media figures, including Glenn Beck and SE Cupp, about the allegations.

"In our meetings last week, we received feedback that any list - even a good one - inherently raises questions of which publications are included versus which are not," said Facebook spokeswoman Jodi Seth. "Based on this feedback, we felt that the best approach would be to clear up this issue by removing these lists entirely and focus on surfacing the conversation on Facebook."

In its investigation, Facebook found that members of the team working on trending topics could temporarily suppress topics if news outlets weren't reporting on them enough. 

Thune said in a statement he found Facebook's response "encouraging" though it revealed that its trending topics feature "relied on human judgment, and not just an automated process, more than previously acknowledged."

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