Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg meets with influential conservatives after claim of political bias in trending topics feature
“Silicon Valley has a reputation for being liberal,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post after the meeting’s conclusion. “But the Facebook community includes more than 1.6 billion people of every background and ideology — from liberal to conservative and everything in between.” He added: “Still, I know many conservatives don’t trust that our platform surfaces content without a political bias.”
Some conservatives feel that their complaints about Facebook’s reputation, however, had gone unacknowledged for too long.“I’m not sure they recognized, in my opinion, how angry conservatives were,” Robert Bluey, vice president of publishing at the Heritage Foundation and editor in chief of Heritage’s Daily Signal told The Washington Post in a phone interview soon after Wednesday’s gathering. “They need to do a better job of interacting with these people.”
Bluey, who attended Wednesday’s meeting, said it was heartening to observe that Facebook is now paying attention. During the talks, Facebook was mostly ears — “Mark made that very clear early on in the meeting,” Bluey said — and also sketched out how algorithms power the news feed and trending topics.
“It was an open and honest dialogue,” conservative political commentator S. E. Cupp said in a CNN interview Wednesday night. Cupp said she felt assured that suppressing conservative viewpoints would be “anathema” to Zuckerberg’s philosophy, and “counterproductive” to Facebook’s business model.
Along with Cupp and Bluey, the guests in attendance included radio host Glenn Beck, former White House press secretary Dana Perino who served under President George W. Bush, Heritage Foundation president and former senator Jim DeMint, Daily Caller editor in chief Tucker Carlson, Tea Party Patriots founder Jenny Beth Martin and Donald Trump campaign aide Barry Bennett. (“Trump’s name did not come up,” Bluey said, and the meeting “wasn’t focused on the election.”) Bluey recognized that conservatives, including many of the people in the room, have accrued massive followings on Facebook.
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