Social media juggernaut Facebook, which came under fire last month after a report in the tech blog Gizmodo said that curators of the company’s “trending topics” feature “routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers,” announced that it will train employees to identify and check their political bias.
The announcement was made by Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg on Wednesday during an appearance at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.
“We think a lot about diversity at Facebook,” Sandberg said. “And 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, and we’ve focused on racial bias, age bias, gender bias, national bias, and we’re going to add in a scenario now on political bias.”
“So that, as part of [how] 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 move follows a meeting in May at Facebook headquarters of conservative leaders with Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg to address the political bias charges. Many of those conservative leaders left that meeting doubtful that the company would take any meaningful action.
“It is a political time and we’re proud of the role we play in elections, not just here but around the world,” Sandberg said. “We don’t have a point of view, we’re not trying to make you have a point of view.”
The reality is that the new class is not mandatory for Facebook employees, thus it will probably have a minimal effect, if any, on what political bias does exist at Facebook.