This past Wednesday, 17 top conservative leaders traveled to Facebook headquarters to meet with the CEO Mark Zuckerberg, COO Sheryl Sandberg and other company executives. The subject of their meeting? The Gizmodo article, which came out a week earlier, claiming Facebook employees regularly alter the site's "trending news section" to filter out conservative-leaning articles.
The piece sparked outrage from the right when it was released. So Zuckerberg and team invited a wide range of conservatives for a sit-down. Among them, talk show host Glenn Beck, Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson, former Senator Jim DeMint, former Bush press secretary Dana Perino, and friend of Greater Boston, conservative commentator Jennifer Braceras. JenniferBraceras(@MAHockeyMom) joined Jim on Monday night to discuss the meeting.
Braceras said she "had no expectations, whatsoever," going into the meeting, and was honored to be invited. She said that the process of choosing trending topics is more complicated than people think. They have an algorithm that determines what is popular on Facebook at any given time. And they have humans that curate those topics, and check them against what is actually newsworthy. However, they check these trending topics against a list of mainstream news sources. On the list, the "conservative news sources were few."
Braceras said that she doesn't think that they are intentionally trying to leave out conservative view points. But she cited an "echo chamber" in which everybody thinks alike. "To them, things that are offensive or newsworthy may not be offensive or newsworthy to a conservative." She referenced the "twilight zone" when speaking about the meeting. "It seemed like they were issuing demands," as they went around the table citing concerns about Facebook. "I sort of felt like it was an out of body experience."
Jim brought up Glenn Beck's comments after the meeting, which shocked many people due to the fawning nature of his words. Braceras said that her and Beck were two of the only people in the room who felt that "transparency is key." She continued, "If Zuckerberg is going to have a perspective, just share it with us, and we as conservatives will be the first people to stand behind your right to do so."
She called Mark Zuckerberg a "sincere person," but also so much of a techie that he believes human bias can be removed from an algorithm. They are going to launch a full investigation into the claim that they suppressed conservative stories. "He said, look, the bottom line is this trending topics issue brings to the fore, that conservatives don't trust Facebook, and I want conservatives to trust Facebook." Braceras now has Zuckerberg's personal email, however she will not share it with Jim.