Back in May, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was in full-on, damage-control mode over allegations that the popular social media platform—with more than 1 billion active daily users—discriminates against conservative views. Under the specter of a U.S. Senate investigation, Zuckerberg met with leading conservatives to address the “trending news” controversy, and made assurances that there is no manipulation of the algorithm resulting in conservative viewpoint bias.
Since then—in a little-noted piece—word is out that Facebook is now training employees to not discriminate against conservatives. Acknowledging that the allegations of bias were taken seriously, COO Sheryl Sandberg announced the addition of a "political bias" section to the company's managing unconscious bias class, saying, "We think a lot about diversity at Facebook. It's something our industry has struggled with, we've struggled with. We think to build a product that 1.6 billion people use, you need diversity. And what you really want is cognitive diversity ... intellectual diversity."
While it’s encouraging to see Facebook taking positive steps to address political viewpoint bias, what about including religious diversity as well in employee training efforts? A quick look at Facebook’s most recent statement on diversity highlights characteristics like gender, race, age, sexual orientation and cognitive/thought diversity, but fails to mention religion.
Here, a strong case can be made for including religion in Facebook’s diversity position and efforts. After all, religious beliefs and conviction form the basis for the perspectives and worldviews of the vast majority of people around the world.
This point is reinforced by the recent news that Internet giants like Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft are moving forward with plans to quickly censor “hate speech”—including views that some groups say are “homophobic.” What if biblical views on gender, sexuality, marriage and family are labelled “hate speech” and then censored?
As Facebook positively responds to consumer concerns about political viewpoint bias, the time is ripe for it to more fully “walk the talk” and include religious viewpoint in the company's rainbow of diversity.