Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to Hold Meeting With Conservatives Amid Criticism

One conservative website called the meeting a "text book conjob."

May 18, 2016, 11:07 AM

— -- A select group of conservatives will meet Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg this afternoon at the social media's headquarters in California in an effort to calm the waters after allegations surfaced last week claiming that curators of the website's highly trafficked "news feed" had deliberately censored certain topics on the basis of ideological differences.

The meeting comes amid a flurry of criticism from conservative publications who view its purpose to be self-serving. On Tuesday the online magazine The Federalist called the meeting a "text book conjob".

Representing conservatives will be media personality Glenn Beck, as well as pundit Dana Perino, who once served as press secretary for President George W. Bush, Zac Moffatt, the former digital director for Mitt Romney, Arthur Brooks, president of the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute, and Barry Bennett, an adviser to Donald Trump's presidential campaign. Facebook did not disclose the criteria by which it formed an invitation list to the meeting, and has not publicized the names of invitees who may have declined the event.

The website Breitbart published a post on May 13 explaining why its staff declined an invitation from Facebook.

Today, the politically conservative publication further elucidated its qualms with the social media giant in a post alleging that Facebook actively silenced so-called anti-immigration users who stood to undermine the corporation's efforts for expanding foreign labor.

Citing the opinion of anti-immigration advocates, the post called Facebook a "political combatant."

A spokesperson for Facebook rejected this notion and referred ABC News to a Facebook post by Zuckerberg on May 12 that explained the purpose of holding the meeting.

"Facebook stands for giving everyone a voice. We believe the world is better when people from different backgrounds and with different ideas all have the power to share their thoughts and experiences. That's what makes social media unique. We are one global community where anyone can share anything -- from a loving photo of a mother and her baby to intellectual analysis of political events," the post said.

The allegations in Breitbart.com follow a thread of comments by the website implying that Facebook had tailored its meeting to primarily include critics of Donald Trump. It has been widely acknowledged that Trump's tough stance on immigration has played a large role in winning over conservative voters.

PHOTO: Milo Yiannopoulos appears in an image made from the video, "Milo Yiannopoulos Challenges Mark Zuckerberg To Debate" posted to YouTube on May 14, 2016.
Milo Yiannopoulos appears in an image made from the video, "Milo Yiannopoulos Challenges Mark Zuckerberg To Debate" posted to YouTube on May 14, 2016.
Milo Yiannopoulos/YouTube

Milo Yiannopoulos, a Breitbart.com commentator and rising star of the so-called "alt-right" movement, challenged Zuckerberg to a debate in a YouTube video posted on May 14 regarding allegations of what he referred to as "censoring conservatives."

"Users deserve to know whether the trending topics on Facebook really are trending or whether it's just something that some social justice warrior in San Francisco wants you to believe is popular," Yiannopoulos said in the clip.

Facebook said it has not responded to Yiannopoulos' debate offer.

Facebook is known for being proactive in working to ensure that users are not offended by posts. A spokesperson for Facebook was reluctant to give details about specific challenges curators of its trending topics section have faced, instead referring ABC News to the website's information page about trending topics. The company said its algorithm "does not consider perspective or politics."

Regarding a controversial headline published on Breitbart yesterday branding conservative pundit Bill Kristol a “renegade Jew,” the Facebook spokesperson said a post like that would “likely be flagged as offensive or sensational."

Yiannopoulos and Breitbart.com did not immediately respond to requests for comment from ABC News.

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