Conservatives Will Attempt to Stress Thought Diversity at Facebook

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Some big names in conservative politics are gathering in Silicon Valley Wednesday, eager to hear directly from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on charges that the popular social media site steers readers away from right-wing stories and media outlets.

The kerfuffle began last week when technology blog Gizmodo reported, citing former Facebook workers, that Facebook’s news curators suppress conservative articles and news outlets in the “Trending Topics” feature that highlights the most popular news on Facebook.

The issue is coming to the forefront as voters increasingly rely on social media channels for their political news and information. And political candidates now consider Facebook a key message platform on par with television. A poll by polling firm Morning Consult said Tuesday more than half of registered voters – 55% — get their news from social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. Nearly half, 47%, also said they’re “comfortable” with social media companies determining what news they see on their sites vs. 34% who said they were not comfortable.

Among the dozen or so expected to attend the meeting at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.: conservative radio host and publisher Glenn Beck; Dana Perino, co-host of The Five on Fox News Channel; Zac Moffatt, co-founder of Targeted Victory; Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute; Barry Bennett, former campaign manager for Ben Carson and senior adviser to the Trump campaign; and Jim DeMint, president of the Heritage Foundation.

Facebook has denied that it discriminates against conservative views. “We have found no evidence that this report is true. If we find anything against our principles, you have my commitment that we will take additional steps to address it,” Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook.

The denial did little to quash the ensuing firestorm. And Zuckerberg said he’s meeting with “leading conservatives and people from across the political spectrum” to share their points of view.

“Every tool we build is designed to give more people a voice and bring our global community together. For as long as I’m leading this company this will always be our mission,” he wrote.

Perino told media trade publication TheWrap Tuesday that she is approaching the meeting with “an open mind” but wanted to emphasize that “diversity of thought is valuable.”

“If I make one point, the bigger-picture problem across the board is that Silicon Valley as a whole is a great champion of diversity, but usually when they talk about diversity, they mean gender and race,” she said.

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Source: USA Today |  Roger Yu