Facebook is going to train employees to stop being political

Steven Loeb · June 24, 2016 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/4633

The company will make employees take a mandatory training course on managing political bias

Facebook is still reeling from the scandal that erupted last month, when it was accused, by a former contractor, of routinely preventing stories from conservative news outlets from appearing in its "Trending Topics" sidebar due to political bias. 

The company has tried to smooth things over, but it is taking the optics of this very seriously.

So seriously, in fact, that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, speaking at event held by The American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, said that the company will actually be training its employees to recognize their own political biases, according to a report from the Hill

We think a lot about diversity at Facebook,” she is quoted as saying. “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.”

A Facebook spokesperson also told The Hill that the training will be mandatory.

What this training will entail does not seem to be clear at the moment. What is apparent, though, is that this is another effort by Facebook to bridge the gap to a group that is distrustful of the company in light of the firestorm that erupted after the Trending Topics scandal.

While Facebook categorically denied that this had ever happened, conservative media ran with it. So Mark Zuckerberg, in full damage control mode, set up a meeting last month with Facebook executives and a number of conservative bigwigs, including Glenn Beck and former U.S. Senator Jim Demint, to discuss some of the issues that conservatives have had with the site. 

The meeting seems to have gone well, as many members of the conservative media who were there praised the company for its willingness to meet with them, and for listening to their concerns. 

In addition, the company decided, earlier this week, to retain Peter Thiel, one of Facebook's longest serving members on its board of directors, despite his contentious squabble with Gawker. 

Thiel also happens to be one of the most outspoken conservatives in tech, and when asked about those issues, Sandberg response was that the company would not punish a member of its organization for their views. 

We have very independent board members with very independent thoughts that they share publicly,” she said.

Beyond the optics of being accused of political Facebook has its financial health to think about. it has developed relationships with numerous media companies to help distribute content. It needs to reassure conservative news organizations, which are some of the most powerful in the country, that they have nothing to worry about when it comes to their views and articles being somehow suppressed. 

VatorNews reached out to Facebook for comment and confirmation of this report. We will update this story if we learn more. 

(Image source: facebook.com)

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