Facebook open to all ideas: Zuckerberg

SAN FRANCISCO • Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said on Wednesday that conservatives are an important part of the social network after a meeting aimed at defusing concerns that it is politically biased.

"We've built Facebook to be a platform for all ideas," Mr Zuckerberg said on his Facebook page after a meeting at the company's California headquarters to discuss allegations in a news article that Facebook was suppressing conservative voices in its "trending news" stories.

"Our community's success depends on everyone feeling comfortable sharing anything they want. It doesn't make sense for our mission or our business to suppress political content or prevent anyone from seeing what matters most to them."

Mr Zuckerberg called the meeting after technology news outlet Gizmodo last week reported allegations that Facebook was deliberately omitting articles with conservative viewpoints from a sidebar that lists popular stories. Facebook has denied the allegations, reportedly made by a former employee, while promising to investigate.

"The reality is, conservatives and Republicans have always been an important part of Facebook," Mr Zuckerberg wrote after Wednesday's meeting.

He added that he recognised that "many conservatives don't trust that our platform surfaces content without a political bias" and noted: "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."

Invited to the meeting were political commentator Glenn Beck and talk show host Dana Perino. Others invited included Mr Zac Moffatt, a political consultant who worked for former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney; Mr Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute; and Mr Barry Bennett, an adviser to presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

CNN conservative commentator S.E. Cupp, another attendee, tweeted after the gathering: "Very productive meeting at @Facebook with Mark and team. Strong commitments to address issues, as well as to work together on common goals."

Mr Zuckerberg's post elicited more than 17,000 "likes" shortly after the message appeared but some questioned the allegations.

"Frankly, I do not know where they got this perception" of bias, wrote Ms Loni Reeder. "I have more Republican/Trump nauseating propaganda floating across my page (unwanted propaganda, I might add!) than I do of nominees Clinton and Sanders."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2016, with the headline 'Facebook open to all ideas: Zuckerberg'. Print Edition | Subscribe