Facebook said its "news curators" didn't suppress conservative news outlets in its trending news module, even though they have the capability to do so.
On Monday, Gizmodo cited anonymous sources who claimed to be former Facebook contractors and said they routinely weeded out news from conservative sites while moderating the "Trending News" section.
Facebook denied the accusation.
Tom Stocky, who is in charge of Facebook's trending topics team, said that after an algorithm picks out popular topics for the module, humans audit the results. During that review process, bias can easily seep into what's considered top news.
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But the top news module is small and found on mobile devices only after a search. Some say it would be of more concern if Facebook used personal bias to curate users' main news feeds, which could happen.
In 2014, Facebook admitted to tweaking the news feed, or at least to letting researchers experiment with the feed.
The team filtered whether users saw more positive or negative posts for a week, then tracked whether the users' own posts became more positive or negative in response.
The older manipulation of the news feed and the new allegation about the top news module serve as reminders that social media sites can ultimately control what you see on their sites.
Every time a user logs in to Facebook, he or she could potentially see about 1,500 posts on a news feed, but Facebook's algorithm narrows that number down to a less overwhelming 300 posts or fewer.
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No one is above the law -- not even the police chief.
That was the case for a Central Florida chief who paid a parking ticket after coming under fire when photos of his illegally parked car showed up on Facebook.
Groveland Police Chief Melvin Tennyson decided to issue and pay a $45 parking ticket for himself last week after a Facebook post showing his black SUV parked on the sidewalk near City Hall generated complaints by commenters, the Daily Commercial reported.
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“Groveland police department is handing out tickets to people who park their vehicles in (their) own driveway if they block the sidewalk, $40 tickets are issued, but when the chief of police blocks sidewalks it’s OK?” David Bires said in a post, according to the Daily Commercial.
The next day, Tennyson paid the fine and posted a picture of the receipt on Facebook, saying that he “cannot... hold anyone accountable until I hold myself accountable.”
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The Daily Commercial reported that his update was met with a lot of praise.
“Thanks for being honest and setting a good example for his community,” Marian Schatzer wrote in a follow-up post.
Read more at the Daily Commercial.
Former Facebook employees said the social media platform has "routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers," Gizmodo reported Monday.
Gizmodo reported that "several former Facebook news curators" said that stories about Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, the right-wing CPAC gathering and other conservative topics were filtered and sometimes ignored altogether from Facebook's Trending Topics section, which appears on the upper right-hand corner of user's home pages.
Those sources said they were also instructed to "inject" certain stories into the trending section, even if they weren't viral or popular stories and to block any news about Facebook itself in the trending section.
"Depending on who was on shift, things would be blacklisted or trending," one former Facebook curator told Gizmodo's Michael Nunez. "I’d come on shift and I’d discover that CPAC or Mitt Romney or Glenn Beck or popular conservative topics wouldn’t be trending because either the curator didn’t recognize the news topic or it was like they had a bias against Ted Cruz."
"In other words, Facebook’s news section operates like a traditional newsroom, reflecting the biases of its workers and the institutional imperatives of the corporation," Gizmodo reported.
A Facebook spokesperson later denied the allegations."We take allegations of bias very seriously. Facebook is a platform for people and perspectives from across the political spectrum," the spokesperson told Buzzfeed. "Trending Topics shows you the popular topics and hashtags that are being talked about on Facebook. There are rigorous guidelines in place for the review team to ensure consistency and neutrality. These guidelines do not permit the suppression of political perspectives. Nor do they permit the prioritization of one viewpoint over another or one news outlet over another. These guidelines do not prohibit any news outlet from appearing in Trending Topics."
The Trending Topics section on Facebook is different for everyone; the stories that appear are generated by where the user lives, what the user routinely searches and other factors. Facebook uses an algorithm to surface popular topics at any given time, and a team of curators then tailors the list to meet particular standards.
Gizmodo did not name any of the former Facebook employees that served as sources for its story. And it acknowledged that it's unclear whether the biased filtering is still happening.
Read more on Gizmodo.
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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and other city officials are speaking out against Chick fil-A.
The suggestion comes as the chicken chain announced plans to open a restaurant in Queens Center Mall, the fourth location in the city.
"We look forward to opening our first restaurant in Queens and serving all of our customers delicious food in an environment of genuine hospitality," a Chick-fil-A spokesperson said.
But de Blasio says Chick fil-A supports groups that promote discrimination against gay people.
"What the ownership of Chick-fil-A has said is wrong," de Blasio said. "I’m certainly not going to patronize them, and I wouldn’t urge any other New Yorker to patronize them. But they do have a legal right."
"Chick-fil-A is anti-LGBT," councilman Danny Dromm said in a statement. "This group imparts a strong anti-LGBT message by forcing their employees and volunteers to adhere to a policy that prohibits same-sex love. It is outrageous that Chick-fil-A is quietly spreading its message of hate by funding these types of organizations."
In 2012, Chick-fil-A gained attention when it came to light that the company had donated millions of dollars to organizations that fight same-sex marriage.
The restaurant chain, which is closed on Sundays, is known for heralding Christian beliefs.
"As it relates to society in general, I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,'" Dan T. Cathy, the company’s president and chief operating officer, said in an interview.
But a Chick-fil-A spokesperson said that the company employees thousands of people who represent varied backgrounds and beliefs and that the business' main focus is on satisfactory service and food.
"The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect -- regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender," the spokesperson said.
Old Navy received lots of feedback after posting a promotional message on the company's Twitter account, adding a photo that featured a family sporting the retailer's clothing.
The family in the photo showed three people interacting: a black woman, a white man and a black child.
But the company's effort to encourage diversity was met with lots of criticism, with some people saying the ad is "absolutely disgusting" and reflects "the genocide of the white race."
Despite some customers saying they'd boycott the store, Old Navy officials released a statement saying "We are a brand with a proud history of championing diversity and inclusion. At Old Navy, everyone is welcome."
Many Twitter users responded to the negativity with messages in support of Old Navy's action. Some even posted photos of themselves with their significant others, most of which displayed happy interracial couples.
The male model who appeared in the photo, Clay Pollioni, posted a message on Instagram saying, "I'm extremely proud to have taken part in a campaign that not only celebrates our nation's diversity, but also unites families with multicultural backgrounds and promotes love of all kinds.
I'm extremely proud to have taken part in a campaign that not only celebrates our nation's diversity, but also unites families with multicultural backgrounds and promotes love of all kinds! #LoveWins Thank you @oldnavy A photo posted by Clay Pollioni (@clay_pollioni) on May 2, 2016 at 11:26am PDT <script async defer src="//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js"></script>
The woman that appeared in the promotional photo, Grace Mahary, also spoke out in support of the retailer.
In light of the controversy revolving around my pretend family... I am proud to be representing interracial love, multiculturalism, and most importantly, a mentality that supports opportunity for all ethnicities. Thanks @oldnavy #lovewins #hatefreezone A photo posted by Grace Mahary (@gracemahary) on May 1, 2016 at 3:28pm PDT <script async defer src="//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js"></script>
Another person who denounced the negative feedback Old Navy received is Jack McCain, son of former presidential candidate Sen. John McCain.
Jack McCain, a Navy lieutenant and helicopter pilot, is married to Air Force Reserve Capt. Renee Swift, a black woman.
He posted a message on Twitter to "the people upset about the (Old Navy) 'scandal,'" calling those people "ignorant racists" and telling them to "eat it."
His wife also posted messages on Twitter.
President Obama delivered a pointed and entertaining speech during his final White House Correspondents' Dinner as president.
He finished by poking fun at each of the presidential candadates still running in the 2016 race, saying "And with that, I just have two more words to say: 'Obama Out.'"
But despite his dramatic mic drop, another moment during the so-called Nerd Prom gained mixed responses from the crowd.
Comedian and host of "The Nightly Show" Larry Wilmore dropped a bomb when he referred to the president using the controversial N-word.
“I’m going to keep it 100," Wilmore said before pounding his chest. "Yo Barry, you did it, my (expletive.)”
While the president didn't seem offended, putting his hand to his chest endearingly and giving Wilmore a hug, many social media users took to Twitter to voice outrage and confusion.
Others weren't bothered by the comment.
Rev. Al Sharpton spoke out against Wilmore's use of the word.
"Many of us are against using the N-word, period," Sharpton said at MSNBC's afterparty following the event. "But to say that to the President of the United States in front of the top people in media was at best in poor taste."
Wilmore made other race-related jokes earlier in his speech.
“As long as he keeps being black, I’m good,” Wilmore said, adding that he voted for the president because of their shared race.
He started with this: "Welcome to Negro Night here, or as they say at Fox, ‘two thugs disrupting an elegant dinner’ in Washington."
And then: "Some of America’s finest black journalists are here tonight. Don Lemon is here too."
Then there was this: "A little bit about me: I am a black man who replaced a white man who pretended to be a TV newscaster. So in that way, Lester Holt and I have a lot in common."
And this: "Hillary Clinton was flustered when a Black Lives Matters, protester challenged her. Man, whoa, I haven’t seen a white lady being that upset about being blindsided by a black person since Kelly Ripa," Wilmore joked.
"You guys are tough, man!" the comedian said to the audience at one point.
He finished on a more serious note.
"When I was a kid, I lived in a country where people couldn't accept a black quarterback. Now think about that: A black man was thought by his mere color not good enough to lead a football team. And now, to live in your time, Mr. President, when a black man can lead the entire free world."
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