After firestorm, Facebook training employees to check political biases

After firestorm, Facebook training employees to check political biases
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Facebook will train employees to deal with their political biases, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said at an event Wednesday evening.

“We think a lot about diversity at Facebook,” she said. “And 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, 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.”

“So that, as part of [how] we think about helping people understand different points of view and being open to different points of view, we’re dealing with political bias as well going forward.”

Many Silicon Valley companies have turned to unconscious bias training in recent years as they seek to address the tech industry’s lack of diversity in hiring. Among other tactics, they have also started to disclose more about demographics of their workforces.

A spokesperson for Facebook said the training in question is mandatory for all employees.

The decision to include a segment on political biases was sparked by allegations, which Facebook says are unfounded, that editors for the social network’s trending topics feature systematically downplayed news stories and sources popular with conservatives.

Sandberg made the comments Wednesday at an event held by the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. In addition to the steps Facebook has taken since the bias controversy, she discussed the company’s emerging businesses and "Lean In," her best-selling book on how women can thrive in the workplace.

Throughout the discussion, she reiterated Facebook’s main argument on many political matters: that it is a neutral platform where users of all political stripes can make their voices heard.

“We don’t have a point of view, we’re not trying to make you have a point of view,” she said.