In a post today, Facebook VP Justin Osofsky revealed more detail than ever before about the company's Trending Topics product, which faced accusations of liberal bias from a former employee earlier this week. In the post, Osofsky detailed how potential topics are surfaced by an algorithm before being curated by editors, an explanation consistent with a leaked employee manual published earlier today by The Guardian.
Along with new details on the company's process, Osofsky published a list of the one thousand websites Facebook watches for trending news. The list includes a number of conservative outlets singled out by the former employee as targets of discrimination, including Breitbart and The Washington Examiner. The Weekly Standard and The Daily Caller also appear on the list, alongside a number of sites with no apparent news content whatsoever, like DeviantArt, FanFiction.net, and Bettycrocker.com.
Facebook has vigorously denied any ideological bias in the Trending Topics feed, even as many have pointed to the presence of human editors as inherently subjective. "We want this to show you what you’re most interested in," said Facebook's News Feed manager Will Cathcart in an interview with The Verge. "We’re not interested in adding our point of view — we actually don’t think that works for a billion people."