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Zuckerberg meets with prominent conservatives amid claims Facebook content is too liberal

"We've built Facebook to be a platform for all ideas. ...It doesn't make sense for our mission or our business to suppress political content," Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday.

By Doug G. Ware
The Chrysler building is seen in the background near Wall Street in New York City as social media giant Facebook launched its initial public offering and became a publicly-held company, May 18, 2012. Wednesday, four years to the day of the IPO, Mark Zuckerberg met with several prominent conservatives at Facebook's California headquarters to discuss concerns by some that the social network's content may be too liberal. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/155ee10d04a9523ca8e1a7c876eeb717/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
The Chrysler building is seen in the background near Wall Street in New York City as social media giant Facebook launched its initial public offering and became a publicly-held company, May 18, 2012. Wednesday, four years to the day of the IPO, Mark Zuckerberg met with several prominent conservatives at Facebook's California headquarters to discuss concerns by some that the social network's content may be too liberal. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

MENLO PARK, Calif., May 18 (UPI) -- Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg took time out of his busy business and philanthropic schedule on Wednesday to meet with several prominent conservatives, and discuss the concerns of some that fear the influential social media giant leans too far to the left.

The meeting occurred amid criticisms from some in the conservative community that Facebook's offerings online, particularly news, have too great a liberal tone.

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The meeting, held at Facebook's Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters, included conservative radio talk show host Glenn Beck, former Bush administration spokeswoman Dana Perino and Barry Bennett, a top aide to GOP candidate Donald Trump.

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"This afternoon I hosted more than a dozen leading conservatives to talk about how we can make sure Facebook continues to be a platform for all ideas across the political spectrum," Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page after the meet Wednesday, acknowledging the importance of the issue.

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"The reality is, conservatives and Republicans have always been an important part of Facebook," he continued. "Donald Trump has more fans on Facebook than any other presidential candidate. And Fox News drives more interactions on its Facebook page than any other news outlet in the world. It's not even close."

Perino, also a host for Fox News Channel, talked of her experience in a brief video she posted to her page.

"Diversity of race and gender is one thing, and it's a great thing to champion, but diversity of thought is also very valuable in an organization. We talked a little about that," she said.

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Conservative Fox News host Tucker Carlson also attended the meeting and spoke on Perino's video.

"What's more meaningful? Who cares what people look like. Who cares?" he said. "What's interesting and meaningful and helpful is when you have people with different life experiences and assumptions and from different cultures and worlds. Like, that actually makes you smarter."

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Carlson said he believes racial and cultural matters are important, but emphasized that he feels more people need to "look deeper than the way people look."

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Earlier this month, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said he sent a letter to Zuckerberg with concerns that his service is too liberal in its content.

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"Facebook must answer these serious allegations and hold those responsible to account if there has been political bias in the dissemination of trending news," he said. "Any attempt by a neutral and inclusive social media platform to censor or manipulate political discussion is an abuse of trust and inconsistent with the values of an open Internet."

According to a new poll, nearly 50 percent of Americans said they are comfortable with social media platforms like Facebook determining which news users see -- compared with 34 percent who said they are not comfortable with it. About 20 percent said they had no opinion.

"I know many conservatives don't trust that our platform surfaces content without a political bias," Zuckerberg wrote. "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.

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"It's important that Facebook remains a platform for all ideas and that we continue to give every person a voice."

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