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Zuckerberg meets US conservatives

Do Not UseDo Not Use 19/05/2016 By Dave Lee
Mark Zuckerberg © AP Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has met several high-profile conservative figures in US politics to extend an olive branch.

The site has been accused of tampering with its Trending Topics feature, promoting "progressive" views and websites over content presenting views from the American right.

Mr Zuckerberg has denied the reports - which first appeared on tech news site Gizmodo - were accurate, though the site did concede that the feature was controlled by human editors rather than a popularity algorithm.

After Wednesday's meeting at the company's headquarters in California, he wrote on his Facebook page: "This afternoon I hosted more than a dozen leading conservatives to talk about how we can make sure Facebook continues to be a platform for all ideas across the political spectrum.

"Silicon Valley has a reputation for being liberal. But the Facebook community includes more than 1.6 billion people of every background and ideology - from liberal to conservative and everything in between.

"We've built Facebook to be a platform for all ideas. Our community's success depends on everyone feeling comfortable sharing anything they want. It doesn't make sense for our mission or our business to suppress political content or prevent anyone from seeing what matters most to them."

Facebook earlier confirmed to the BBC that those travelling to Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California, included:

Conservative commentator and radio host Glenn Beck

Fox New presenter Dana Perino

Zac Moffatt, co-founder of Targeted Victory, a technology platform specialising in publicising political campaigns

Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute

Jim DeMint, president of the Heritage Foundation

Senior Donald Trump advisor Barry Bennett

It is understood that several others declined Mr Zuckerberg's offer.

Matthew Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, wrote in a statement: "We will not be attending this meeting. We know one meeting cannot possibly resolve all of the above mentioned issues."

Glenn Beck, writing on his Facebook page, said: " It would be interesting to look him in the eye as he explains and a win for all voices if we can come to a place of real trust with this powerful tool.

"While they are a private business and I support their right to run it any way they desire without government interference, it would be wonderful if a tool like Facebook independently chose to hold up freedom of speech and freedom of association as a corporate principle."

Follow Dave Lee on Twitter @DaveLeeBBC and on Facebook

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