As the Gizmodo tech blog came out with their sensational expose about Facebook’s trending topics controversy, many media agencies including wall street journal and even Indian media houses covered a detailed story as this topic is not only going to affect the American community but the entire world is going to have implications of this act if found true as Facebook moulds the shape of over 1.6 billion users across the globe. However, Facebook downplays all the allegations which are put against the company as there is a lack of substantial proof in this case. Though the Vice-President of search Mr.Tom Stocky ridiculed all the charges they all need to be scrutinised as the allegations are coming directly from the former Facebook news curators.[According to Gizmodo]
What exactly is this issue?
There are various reasons why this issue is being made public in spite of having such talks earlier also. Nowadays just like Twitter we get the trending section on he Facebook too. It’s nothing but an indication of what is being discussed globally across the netizens and what are those topics which are creating buzz among the entire community. This news break is important as many former Facebook workers have claimed that they routinely suppressed Conservative News. This accusation was also being made by a former curator who claims to be the conservative leaning person. As the heat of American presidential election is growing up GOP-led USA senate commerce committee requested answers from Facebook over this matter. The main accusation was that the editors have the leeway to decide the trending topics and they are not always based on the statistics and algorithms. This trending topic section promotes & pushes certain political ideology especially liberal; the another allegation according to The Guardian as certain internal leaked documents supports the argument.
Why is it so important?
If charges are proved right then it’s a bizarre and blunder by Facebook as the company would lose the credential of being neutral. Nowadays Facebook is one of the largest sources of getting the news having over a billion of users. If they manipulate the system; it is adversely going to affect the users and their opinion formations. Hence, it is expected from such social networking sites to be unbiased as their opinion shapes the thinking of many. And such opinion creators should state the facts. The USA have their general presidential elections coming up in the November and in these circumstances ; this controversy stands crucial.
Though trending topics is comparatively a new feature which analyses the most talked hashtags and topics on Facebook; it got more importance as soon as it got launched. It offers general trending news as well as subsections of sports too. Though they are supposed to be based on the data which is obtained on the basis of the real stats; the former workers accused that this feature is working only on the base of the news which comes from the traditionally biased media houses. If it’s true then it’s a clear violation of the ethic of “The platform for all view points” as Facebook just rightly claims. It’s not only about the issue of the Democrats and Republicans in the USA but it’s a betrayal of the trust of the users if proven right.
There are many media houses who nowadays present facts with many prejudices and biases in order to match up their top management policies and their owners’ conveniences. But coming something like this from the Facebook is still unbelievable. Hope Mark Zuckerberg’s clarification turns out to be true but his entire issue must be investigated fare and square as this ‘Trending Topic Controversy’ is itself a trending topic on Facebook.