- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg continued to deny that company employees suppressed right-of-center topics on the platform even after meeting Wednesday with more than a dozen leading conservatives.

“We’ve built Facebook to be a platform for all ideas. Our community’s success depends on everyone feeling comfortable sharing anything they want,” Mr. Zuckerberg said in a post afterward. “It doesn’t make sense for our mission or our business to suppress political content or prevent anyone from seeing what matters most to them.”

At the same time, he said he realized that “many conservatives don’t trust that out platform surfaces content without a political bias.”

“I wanted to hear their concerns personally and have an open conversation about how we can build trust. I want to do everything I can to make sure our teams uphold the integrity of our products,” Mr. Zuckerberg said.

The Wednesday evening meeting at company headquarters in Menlo Park, California, came after the tech site Gizmodo reported that former staffers said they routinely squelched stories of interest to conservatives on the “trending” topics box, including items about CPAC and Republicans Mitt Romney and Rand Paul.

Several conservatives said they refused to attend the meeting. In a statement earlier this week, American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp called the meeting cosmetic and superficial.

SEE ALSO: Senate begins probe into Facebook over conservative censorship allegations

“We do not believe that the problem between Facebook and CPAC and the broader conservative community is merely a communication problem,” he said, noting that “Facebook staff has admitted to suppressing content about CPAC. Facebook rejected ACU’s overtures for Facebook to play a meaningful role at CPAC,” of which ACU is the chief organizer.

Sean Davis, co-founder of the Federalist website, called the gathering a “textbook con job.”

“As every single statement from Facebook makes clear, the company refuses to admit it did anything wrong. So what is the point of this silly meeting in California?” said Mr. Davis. “It can’t be to fix the problem of conservatives being blacklisted, because Facebook won’t even acknowledge that the problem even exists.”

Those scheduled to attend included commentators Glenn Beck and Dana Perino, the Media Research Center’s Brent Bozell and Barry Bennett, a senior adviser to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

In a statement afterward, Mr. Bozell called it “a very productive first meeting. I think Facebook understands there is a problem. And I think that from the very top there is a genuine desire to resolve it.”

He said that “there has been a serious issue of trust within the conservative movement about this issue, but everyone in that room, on both sides, wants to see it restored.”

Columnist S.E. Cupp posted on Facebook similarly, also calling the meeting “very productive,” and saying she and other conservatives present received “strong commitments to address issues, as well as to work together on common goals.”

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