Mark Zuckerberg finds common ground with conservative leaders

Mark Zuckerberg met with conservative leaders this week to address the Trending Topics controversy and remind them that there's a place for conservative voices at Facebook.

Manu Fernandez/AP/File
Facebook chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a 2015 conference in Barcelona, Spain. Mr. Zuckerberg met with conservative leaders such as radio host Glenn Beck on Wednesday to discuss claims that its 'trending topics' feature is biased against their viewpoints.

In an effort to address concerns that Facebook has a conservative bias, company founder Mark Zuckerberg met with a dozen conservative leaders this week to talk about the issue, making good on his word that he intends to "have a direct conversation about what Facebook stands for." 

The meeting was closed to journalists, but reports from participants suggest that Mr. Zuckerberg was successful in finding common ground with conservative leaders.

Conservative media personality Glenn Beck told reporters that Zuckerberg had made him feel more welcome than his own party had of late.

"I thought it was great," Mr. Beck told Time magazine. "I thought they were sincere. And as I was leaving, I thought: 'What company has done that with conservatives?' Especially a media company."

Facebook has been taking heat for the past several weeks after reports from an anonymous former employee surfaced in April that alleged Facebook’s Trending Topics box, which highlights current events stories, hides stories from conservative news sites, while "injecting" stories from other media outlets into the feed.

In response to the allegations, Zuckerberg said that, "Trending Topics is designed to surface the most newsworthy and popular conversations on Facebook. We have rigorous guidelines that do not permit the prioritization of one viewpoint over another or the suppression of political perspectives."

The guidelines Facebook uses for choosing what’s trending somewhat discount the social media giant's public statements that there is no human bias involved in maintaining it. In addition to the Trending Topics algorithm, Facebook staff choose and curate topics and articles in order of importance and relevancy. Facebook says it's conducting a full investigation to see if any of its guidelines or principles have been violated.

"The reality is, conservatives and Republicans have always been an important part of Facebook," Zuckerberg said in a statement after the meeting. "Donald Trump has more fans on Facebook than any other presidential candidate. And Fox News drives more interactions on its Facebook page than any other news outlet in the world. It's not even close."

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