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Facebook to Train Employees to Overcome their "Political Bias"

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After a showdown with conservatives last month, Facebook (FB - Free Report) is now training its employees to keep a check on their “political leanings”. 

As per The Wall Street Journal report, Facebook board member Sheryl Sandberg, while addressing an audience at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC, said that Facebook is now planning to organize classes to make employees focus on “identifying and neutralizing racial, age, gender and other types of bias.”

Last month, a Gizmodo report, quoting an unnamed ex-Facebook contractor, alleged that Facebook intentionally concealed conservative news. The report caused massive uproar and prompted Senator John Thune to write a letter to Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg demanding an explanation.

Following the allegations and the Senator’s letter, Facebook posted a full account of how “Trending Topics” selection works on its website. Zuckerberg also met fifteen key conservative leaders to assure them that Facebook is not prejudiced.

Also, Facebook in a blog post had mentioned “our data analysis indicated that conservative and liberal topics are approved as trending topics at virtually identical rates. We were also unable to substantiate any of the specific allegations of politically-motivated suppression of particular subjects or sources”. 

However, Facebook did not deny the likelihood of human error in its blog post.  As a result, to minimize such instances, the social media service outlined new measures. These included updating the terminology in its Guidelines for better understanding and providing refresher training to  all reviewers. It will also do away with relying on external news websites “to identify, validate or assess the importance of particular topics”. 

Facebook has been dealing with this whole issue very seriously. Any hint of a bias can cause loss of users. For social media services including Facebook, loss of this key metric will not bode well for financial performance. With over 1.69 billion users, Facebook remains the biggest social media service.

At present, Facebook carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). Other stocks worth consideration include NetEase, Inc. (NTES - Free Report) , Ellie Mae, Inc. and CommVault Systems, Inc. (CVLT - Free Report) . All carry the same rank as Facebook.

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