Sen. John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, speaks to members of the media after a Senate luncheon meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on May 10.
Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images
By Katie Reilly
May 10, 2016

The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday to respond to recent allegations that conservative media outlets and conservative news were intentionally excluded from the site’s “Trending Topics” section.

In a letter on Tuesday, committee chairman South Dakota Senator John Thune asked Zuckerberg to explain who is responsible for including stories in the “Trending Topics” section and what steps the company has taken to investigate potential bias, CNN Money reported.

A Facebook spokesman told CNN the company had received the letter and would review the questions.

The report about Facebook’s trending section, published Monday by Gizmodo, suggested that some of the contractors who managed Trending Topics allowed their political beliefs to influence decisions about which stories were included on the site. Tom Stocky, Facebook’s vice president of search, said Monday that his team had found “no evidence” of such behavior.

Read more: It’s time Facebook came clean about how it picks what you read

“Social networks such as Facebook are an increasingly important source of news for many Americans and people around the world,” Thune said in his letter, according to CNN Money. “Facebook has enormous influence on users’ perceptions of current events, including political perspectives.” He asked for a list of all stories that were removed from or injected into the trending section since January 2014. Facebook has until May 24 to respond.

“The Republican Senate refuses to hold hearings on Judge [Merrick] Garland,” Adam Jentleson, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s deputy chief of staff said in response to Thune’s letter, Business Insider reported. “But thinks Facebook hearings are a matter of urgent national interest.”

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