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Bias Controversy Leads to Meeting between Facebook's Zuckerberg meets U.S. Conservatives

Bias Controversy Leads to Meeting between Facebook's Zuckerberg meets U.S. Conservatives
Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said he will work to build trust with users who believe the social network displays politically biased news content after he heard from more than a dozen U.S. conservative leaders recently
Zuckerberg acknowledged that many conservatives believe Facebook is politically liberal even while he defended his company's practices after a closed-door meeting at the company's Silicon Valley headquarters.
"It doesn't make sense for our mission or our business to suppress political content," Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook after the meeting.
"I know many conservatives don't trust that our platform surfaces content without a political bias," he added. "I wanted to hear their concerns personally and have an open conversation about how we can build trust," he said.
After a former Facebook contractor anonymously accused editors there of deliberately suppressing conservative news, the editorial practices at the world's largest social network came under scrutiny. Technology news website Gizmodo, which did not identify the ex-contractor reported the allegations.
Facebook has denied the allegations and said it would conduct a full investigation.
The meeting produced "a constructive discussion" and some attendees called it productive, a Facebook spokeswoman said.
"I think Facebook is very sincere in wanting to resolve outstanding issues with conservatives," Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, said after the meeting.
Bozell said that while the tone was cordial the attendees were frank about their concerns.
"Facebook invited that frank talk. People didn't hold back too much," he said.
"Strong commitments to address issues, as well as to work together on common goals" had been among the outcomes of the meeting, said conservative CNN commentator S.E. Cupp on her Facebook page.
Former White House press secretary Dana Perino, media personality Glenn Beck and former Republican Senator Jim DeMint were among the other attendees in the meeting.
Facebook's 1.6 billion users span every background and ideology even though while Silicon Valley has a reputation for being liberal, Zuckerberg said.
"The reality is, conservatives and Republicans have always been an important part of Facebook," Zuckerberg wrote.
He said that there were more Facebook fans of Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump than any other presidential candidate. Zukerberg added that Fox News "drives more interactions on its Facebook page than any other news outlet in the world."
"It's not even close."
Fox News is owned by Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox.
Reports say that there is leanings towards the Democratic among the Facebook employees who donate to presidential candidates. According to a Reuters analysis of campaign finance data, 79 percent of employee contributions to 2016 contenders went to Democrats and 21 percent to Republicans.
Zuckerberg has contributed to candidates in both parties. 40 percent of his donations went to Democrats and 40 percent to Republicans during the 2014 midterm elections. He has not supported a presidential candidate this cycle.
Republican Senator John Thune, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee said that there is little chance the government will try to regulate Facebook's practices even though a U.S. Senate committee is investigating whether there is liberal bias in selection of trending topics.
"I don't have any reason to believe that would be necessary," Thune told reporters.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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