When Gizmodo reported the tale of how the curators of Facebook’s Trending Topics section were suppressing the news from conservatively tinged websites, the social media platform defended itself by claiming it was actually a friend to those on the right.
And now that U.S. Senate leaders have formally asked whether Facebook manipulates the news it shows its readers, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg met with conservative leaders Wednesday to assure them that the company isn’t biased in the way it presents news.
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While Zuckerberg is a well-known liberal, this kind of discussion—with politicians and with Facebook customers—makes perfect business sense. As Michael Jordan once famously said when asked why he wouldn’t publicly support a Democratic Senate candidate from North Carolina, “Republicans wear sneakers, too.”
According to the BBC, among those who traveled to Facebook headquarters were conservative commenter Glenn Beck, Fox News analyst and George W. Bush press secretary Dana Perino, Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint, and Donald Trump adviser Barry Bennett. The BBC also wrote that several invited conservatives declined the invitation.
It’s unclear at this point what was specifically discussed or if any relationships were mended, but it was clear that at least one conservative seemed apprehensive about the meeting before it began.
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Politico reported the closed-door meeting lasted 90 minutes with Zuckerberg stressing that Facebook doesn’t censor for politics in its News Feed and that the social media site wants to be an “open platform.”
It sounds like some of the attendees were skeptical, while others were more positive.
Very productive meeting at @Facebook with Mark and team. Strong commitments to address issues, as well as to work together on common goals.
Josh Katzowitz is a staff writer at the Daily Dot specializing in YouTube and boxing. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. A longtime sports writer, he's covered the NFL for CBSSports.com and boxing for Forbes. His work has been noted twice in the Best American Sports Writing book series.