A couple of months ago it was reported that contractors responsible for including news items inside the News Feed’s Trending Topics section were suppressing news of interest to political conservatives on purpose. Facebook obviously denied the allegations but nevertheless, it has spent the past few months trying to control the damage and ensure that the conservative user base does not go away. Following the controversy, it has decided to make a big change to Trending Topics.
Facebook has announced that the Trending Topics section in the News Feed will now be more automated and that humans will no longer be required to write descriptions for news items that are included in the section.
It’s not that humans won’t be involved at all. They will be helping out to keep legitimate Trending Topics separate from mundane hashtags like #MondayBlues. Editors will also be combining multiple hashtags and keywords associated with a single trend under a unified topic.
Editors will no longer write descriptions for Trending Topics, though. An algorithm will be put in place instead that’s going to go through the news stories about an event and automatically select snippets to display to users who click on a trend or hover over it using a mouse.
Facebook reiterated in its announcement that it looked into the allegations and found no evidence of a systemic political bias. However, it’s making this big change to ensure that Trending Topics remains a way for people to “access a breadth of ideas and commentary about a variety of topics.”
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