Describing Monday's annual Facebook shareholders meeting "amateur hour" ruled by "chaos and disorganization," Justin Danhof of The National Center for Public Policy Research, a leading conservative think tank, accused the company of continued bias against conservative speech on the social media platform.
"From the beginning – when the meeting didn't even start on time – to the company's inability to follow its own guidelines and agenda for the meeting, it was clear that Facebook's management team had little respect for its investors in attendance," Danhof said
in a press released from the organization. "And the company's continued denial that it has ever been biased against conservatives flies in the face of reality."
Danhof said he remains unconvinced of Facebook's efforts to give conservative voices equal say.
He said that CEO Mark Zuckerberg sat "mute" when he asked him about the issue, instead deferring to another company executive. That executive denied there was ever an organized effort to squelch conservative news from the trending topics column even though he also said there were efforts to change its trending topics function.
"Why is Facebook making the change if there is nothing wrong?" Danhof asks.
"Most conservatives have known for years that Facebook is biased against them, but the evidence was largely anecdotal," he said, until the May story by Gizmodo that quoted several former contract employees who said conservative stories were routinely deleted from trending topics and blacklisted conservative news sites, including Newsmax
The meeting with a few prominent conservatives, including radio host Glenn Beck, "does not make up for the continuing mistreatment of conservative individuals and organizations," Danhof said.
"Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg clearly moves in an elitist Silicon Valley circle in which conservative thought and opinion is verboten," he said.
"While it's totally fine for him to engage in extreme leftwing politics and public policy issues in his personal life, as the CEO of a company whose role in the media landscape is growing, he should be aware that his personal actions are often applied to Facebook's brand. If Zuckerberg's goal is to make Facebook a media platform on par with MSNBC and the New York Times – where only far-left thought is allowed – then he should just be honest with his investors and consumers and say so."
Danhof said his own question at the Q&A portion of the meeting had to be cut for time reasons when Facebook limited questions to one minute, even though companies typically allow three minutes. Meeting rules also were changed from those handed out to participants at the beginning of the meeting, he said.
In a May 23, 2016 letter to Senator John Thune, Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch
said the company had engaged in a full investigation of the allegations of current and former employees. He said Facebook found “no evidence” of systematic bias against conservatives.
A number of conservative organizations were surprised that Facebook was able to conduct its investigation so rapidly and without contacting some of the targeted conservative sites for their feedback.
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