Facebook officials respond to allegations of suppressing conservative stories

FILE - This July 16, 2013 file photo shows a sign at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

MENLO PARK (AP) — A Facebook official says the company has found no evidence to back up allegations that Facebook contractors suppressed stories of interest to conservatives in its “Trending” section.

Facebook vice president of search Tom Stocky writes in a post, “There are rigorous guidelines in place for the review team to ensure consistency and neutrality,” adding that the guidelines don’t permit political perspectives to be suppressed or one viewpoint or outlet to be prioritized over another.

Stocky also says an allegation that the site artificially forced the Black Lives Matter movement to trend is “untrue.”

Facebook is responding to a Monday report from Gawker’s Gizmodo blog on claims from unnamed former Facebook contractors who worked as news curators for the company.

Senate Republicans are demanding an explanation from Facebook after the reports surfaced.

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota sent a letter Tuesday to chairman and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg asking who made decisions on stories for Facebook’s Trending Topics feature, whether the company is investigating, and what steps will it take to hold people accountable. Thune chairs the Senate Commerce Committee and asked for answers by May 24.

News reports say employees excluded links to stories they considered less reliable in its list of trending stories, though individuals could post links to conservative stories on their own Facebook feeds.

Thune say if the allegations are true, they compromise Facebook’s open culture and mission to make the world more open and connected.

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