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Following a summit with conservative leaders on Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants people to know that Republicans are an important part of the social network.
Zuckerberg, who convened the meeting after reports surfaced last week alleging that Facebook suppressed conservative news stories in its Trending Topics section, wrote in a post following the meeting that while Silicon Valley has a reputation for being liberal, the Facebook platform is much more diverse. In fact, he wrote that “conservatives and Republicans have always been an important part of Facebook,” noting that Donald Trump has more fans on Facebook than any other presidential candidate and that Fox News has more interactions on its Facebook page than any other news outlet.
“Still, I know many conservatives don’t trust that our platform surfaces content without a political bias,” he continued. “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.”
Facebook met with 16 conservative media personalities and leaders, including Glenn Beck, SE Cupp and Dana Perino.
“Very productive meeting at @Facebook with Mark and team. Strong commitments to address issues, as well as to work together on common goals,” Cupp tweeted after the meeting.
The meeting included a dialogue with Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives about their concerns, as well as training on how to better use Facebook to reach audiences and a session on Trending Topics, where the company highlights stories that are being talked about on the platform. Guests, who also included Trump campaign adviser Barry Bennett and CNN’s Mary Katharine Ham, also were treated to a tour of Facebook’s Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters and a demo of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.
Another guest was Brent Bozell, founder of the Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group, and several offshoots, such as Newsbuster. Bozell is also is a former president of the Parents Television Council, which chronicles allegedly inappropriate content for children on mainstream TV.
“No one knows knows more about liberal bias in the media than we do. We have been documenting and exposing it for 30 years,” Bozell wrote on his website prior to the meeting. “Facebook has a serious problem. Trust is everything and now conservatives don’t trust them. My hope is that today’s meeting will begin to put concerns to rest.”
After the event, Bozell called the meeting “cordial.”
One entity that says it was invited but declined to attend was Breitbart.com, which noted that most of those attending were anti-Donald Trump conservatives, and the news outlet founded by late activist Andrew Breitbart was not impressed with the gathering.
“In true man-of-the-people style, Beck arrived on the West Coast in a private jet, just weeks after laying off 40 of his own employees. You have to admire the chutzpah,” one Breitbart columnist wrote.
“We do not want, nor do we need, Facebook’s corporate validation,” Breitbart said in a statement. “Facebook did it, Facebook got caught, and it must end … Free speech is not for sale, and neither are we.”
Another one to shun an invitation the Zuckerberg meet-and–greet was Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, which organizes CPAC, arguably the most important annual gathering of conservatives.
“It appears that they believe they can avoid having to answer for their actions by hosting conservative luminaries at their state-of-the-art headquarters,”Schlapp said in a lengthy statement.
Last week, tech blog Gizmodo published a report that Facebook contractors decided which stories would show up in the Trending Topics box at the top right of the Facebook newsfeed and that many of them suppressed stories about Republican politicians or those that discussed topics of importance to right-wing users.
Facebook has said that it is investigating the allegations and has not yet found evidence to support them.
See Zuckerberg’s Facebook post below.
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