Facebook takes on critics with political bias class

After allegations it suppressed conservative views, social network adds training for employees

After facing allegations that it was actively suppressing conservative views, Facebook has responded by adding an employee training class focused on political bias.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg announced the addition of the political bias class to the company's ongoing course on Managing Unconscious Bias during a talk she gave at the American Enterprise Institute, according to The Daily Signal.

"We have a managing bias class that all of our leaders and a lot of our employees have taken that I was part of helping to create," Sandberg said. "And we focused on racial bias, age bias, gender bias, national bias, and we're going to add in a scenario now on political bias.

"So as we think about helping people understand different points of view and being open to different points of view, we're dealing with political bias as well going forward," The Daily Signal quoted Sandberg as saying.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the political bias class.

The move comes about six weeks after allegations of political bias at Facebook surfaced in the tech blog Gizmodo.

Citing an anonymous source who reportedly used to work on Facebook's Trending Topics team, Gizmodo alleged that the company's news curators were encouraged to leave stories that might be more interesting to conservative readers off the Trending Topics list and to replace them with stories that weren't popular enough to have normally made the list.

After that report surfaced, Sen. John Thune (R-SD), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, sent Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg an open letter asking several questions about the way Facebook places stories in Trending Topics.

Calling social networks an "an increasingly important source of news," Thune asked who makes decisions about what stories make Trending Topics and if stories have been excluded because of political reasons.

Facebook was quick to say it investigated the allegations and found no evidence of their validity.

Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, said that even though no evidence surfaced supporting the allegations, adding a political bias class for employees is a good idea.

"The accusations have sensitized people and this is a good way of addressing them," he said. "It certainly is intended to placate critics, or at least to placate those who believe the critics. However, given how much politics is dominating people's feelings right now, handling it well is important for Facebook's business."

During the current presidential campaign in the U.S., political stories and comments are driving a lot of Facebook activity.

"Passions are running high," said Gottheil. "It can affect behavior and, to the extent that behavior is visible to users, it can affect the product."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Facebook

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?