At an event last night, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg disclosed that the company will now train employees on how to manage political bias.
The news comes just a few weeks after Gizmodo reported that former editorial contractors for the company, in charge of the site’s Trending Topics, had suppressed conservative news (Sandberg was speaking at the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank). That minor scandal resulted in a change to how that process works, a rare public disclosure of how that process works, and a grandstanding congressional inquiry that will go nowhere.
“We have a managing-bias class that all of our leaders and a lot of our employees have taken that I was part of helping to create,” Sandberg said, according to The Hill, “and we’ve focused on racial bias, age bias, gender bias, national bias, and we’re going to add in a scenario now on political bias.” The training is reportedly mandatory for all employees.
The training is important because — as Facebook tells it and as is often the case with accusations of bias, conservative stories were not spiked because someone made an explicit decision — but because they just might not have seemed important enough to whomever was making the call. On the flip side, combatting political bias could theoretically mean designating shaky sites like Breitbart as reliable sources and keeping otherwise finished controversies like Benghazi floating around.