The US Senate Commerce Committee is launching an inquiry into Facebook’s news curation

You might have heard: Former Facebook news curators say they regularly suppressed conservative news from the site’s trending news section

But did you know: After Gizmodo reported that former Facebook news curators said they suppressed conservative news from the site’s trending news section, the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, requesting answers about the trending news section. The letter asks Zuckerberg questions such as, who is ultimately responsible for approving topics, is there evidence that the curators have manipulated the content in the trending news section, and how is Facebook investigating the claims?

+ The root of the problem goes beyond just news curation, to how Facebook’s algorithm chooses to show people stories: Facebook’s trending news box is “basically a cable news ticker with worse taste and more celebrity selfie posts,” and its algorithm has more influence over what people read (The Verge) and the algorithm leads to liberals seeing more liberal stories and conservatives seeing more conservative stories, with the result being that “if you are a conservative, say, you are living in a cornucopia of conservative thought” (Stratechery)

+ Facebook’s argument that trending topics are surfaced by an algorithm is flawed itself: “This framing assumes that human editing is ideological whereas the algorithmic editing and surfacing of content is ‘neutral.’ … The problem with this line of thinking … is that the choices made by algorithms about what to surface are chosen by humans, based on those humans’ values and in the case of Facebook, the company’s business needs” (Fusion)

+ RedState’s response to whether its content its suppressed on Facebook: “We understand that we are categorized by Facebook as ‘advocacy” rather than ‘news,’ which [is] the exact same way Google characterizes us. We aren’t CNN, and we don’t really expect to be treated like CNN — but we would hope that Facebook would treat us equivalently with similar left-leaning outlets: if Talking Points Memo is ‘news’ then so are we” (RedState)