By Ryan Nakashima | AP,
LOS ANGELES — Facebook acknowledged it has a “problem” reaching conservatives in a wide-ranging discussion between CEO Mark Zuckerberg and a group of conservative commentators following a report that accused the social network of bias, according to one of the conservative members in attendance.
Rob Bluey, editor in chief of the website The Daily Signal, made the comment to Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren shortly after the meeting ended.
“They certainly acknowledged that there was a problem with getting the message out to conservatives,” he said.
Facebook spokesman Andy Stone confirmed that was the tenor of the meeting.
In a Facebook post after the meeting, Zuckerberg did not directly respond to allegations that Facebook employees suppressed conservative stories on its “trending topics” feature. But he said, “I know many conservatives don’t trust that our platform surfaces content without a political bias.”
“I wanted to hear their concerns personally and have an open conversation about how we can build trust. I want to do everything I can to make sure our teams uphold the integrity of our products,” he wrote.
S.E. Cupp, a conservative columnist for the New York Daily News, said in a Facebook post late Wednesday that the meeting was “very productive” and that she received “strong commitments to address issues, as well as to work together on common goals.”
Among others in attendance, according to Facebook, was radio host Glenn Beck, American Enterprise Institute president Arthur Brooks, Tea Party Patriots CEO Jenny Beth Martin and Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, which says its “sole mission is to expose and neutralize the propaganda arm of the Left: the national news media.”
Despite the whirlwind of controversy around the Gizmodo story that triggered the backlash, many invitees, including Fox News’ co-host of “The Five,” Dana Perino, said beforehand that they were going into the meeting called by Zuckerberg with an open mind.
Martin herself tweeted out a smiling picture of herself by “The Facebook Wall” of chalkboard signatures.
Zuckerberg invited the dozen or so conservatives after the Gizmodo report claimed that Facebook downplays conservative news subjects on its trending feature. Facebook denied the report, which relied upon a single anonymous individual with self-described conservative leanings.
The Menlo Park, California, company said it is investigating the matter.
Facebook’s trending topics are most visible on the desktop version of the social network, although it is possible to access them on mobile too.
On browsers, the topics appear on the top right corner, separate from the news feed containing updates from your friends and family. On mobile devices, users can tap on the search bar to see the top trends, but they can’t see separate categories.
AP Technology Writer Barbara Ortutay in New York contributed to this report.
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