An audit conducted by an independent third party and authored by a former Republican senator concluded Tuesday that Facebook shows no evidence of bias against conservative users.
The report, written by former Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and compiled by the law firm Covington & Burling, was commissioned by the social media platform in response to accusations that its algorithms and content removal policies are disadvantageous to people and organizations expressing conservative views.
“Facebook’s ability to personalize the content that its users see and interact with each day ― along with Facebook’s ever-growing size and reach ― has generated concerns about the platform’s impacts on free expression,” Kyl wrote.
He added that while the report was being compiled, Facebook gave him “complete freedom” to reach any conclusion he deemed fitting.
The report includes insight gleaned through interviews with at least 133 “conservative organizations, individuals, and lawmakers who either use, study, or have the potential to regulate Facebook.”
These interviews revealed conservatives’ many gripes with Facebook’s internal deliberations about the appropriateness and the validity of content posted on the platform.
Among these points of contention were the existence of policies prohibiting hate speech; the “confusing” distinction between hate speech, which interviewees believed should not be policed, and hate organizations, which interviewees believed could be policed; and Facebook’s fact-checking mechanisms, which interviewees believed are biased against conservative viewpoints.
The report, however, did not substantiate these claims of anti-conservative bias.
To the contrary, Kyl wrote that Facebook has expanded its team over the past six months by hiring staff dedicated to “working with third party groups… including staff dedicated to working with right-of-center organizations and leaders.”
Kyl’s report runs counter to years of accusations from conservative politicians that their views are being suppressed on social media platforms. The report also arrives in the wake of revelations from former special counsel Robert Mueller that Russia used Facebook to carry out an influence campaign largely intended to help Donald Trump win the 2016 election.
Coincidentally, Kyl’s report showing no evidence of anti-conservative bias at Facebook was released the same day as a blockbuster report from NBC News, outlining the rise of The Epoch Times ― a pro-Trump news outlet that has gained prominence largely through its posts on Facebook.
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