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Facebook denies bias in Trending Topics, but vows changes anyway

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Bill Brown
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In a press release issued publicly and in a letter PDF sent directly to Senator John Thune R-SD , Facebook denied the allegations, but nevertheless announced a number of changes to internal processes that should help appease critics.

Our investigation has revealed no evidence of systematic political bias in the selection or prominence of stories included in the Trending Topics feature.

Specifically, Facebook looked at how and when stories were boosted, blacklisted, or submitted to injection, or correction — and found that rates have been virtually identical for liberal and conservative topics.

Among the changes to the program are additional controls and oversight around the review team — and presumably further oversight of the oversight team itself, since watching the watchers is highly important in a situation like this, with an editorial team encapsulated within a decidedly non-editorial environment.

Facebook s Help Center page on Trending Topics will be updated to better reflect the feature — anyone who thought it was all up to some AI or algorithm will be disabused of that notion.

Senator Thune issued his own statement today as well, praising Facebook s handling of the issue but at the same time getting a couple jabs in.

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