Facebook is training its top leaders and employees on how to manage their political biases, according to the social network’s COO Sheryl Sandberg.
The revelation comes less than two months after Facebook’s trending topics trending topics controversy, which saw the company fending off accusations of human bias affecting its news algorithm.
In a discussion with Arthur Brooks at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) on Wednesday, Sandberg said: “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 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.”
The media scrutiny, and backlash, that erupted in the wake of the trending topics allegations saw Facebook on the defensive. It also resulted in more transparency in regard to its algorithms that power so many different aspects of the social network. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg even met with leading conservatives in order to “build trust.”
Despite those efforts — and the fact that the company’s internal investigation concluded that there was no evidence to prove “systematic bias” — Sandberg’s comments reveal that internally Facebook is still fine-tuning its human talent alongside its AI. The COO stated that the social network decided it still needed to take steps to improve.
Sandberg was in Washington, D.C., this week to meet with politicians in order to ensure that the U.S. has the “right regulatory and policy environment” that allows tech to flourish.
Her discussion at the AEI saw her touch upon themes including immigration and Facebook’s “Lean In” campaign that encourages women to support one another in the workplace. Sandberg also participated in a virtual reality pop-up that demonstrated the social network’s Oculus Rift headset.