Given that today is the September 11th Anniversary, you would expect to read a lot about it online, and wouldn’t be surprised to see it as on of the topics in Facebook’s Trending section. The Trending feature has already caused a lot of controversy this year which led Facebook to make some major changes into how stories are considered to be Trending. The changes don’t seem to be doing so well. After a hoax story about September 11th made it to Trending, Facebook had to drop the topic altogether.
Earlier this year it was reported that the human editors responsible for feeding news stories to Trending routinely suppressed news from conservative sources. Facebook denied the claims but ended up bringing more automation to the feature, human editors are no longer used to write descriptions for news items that are included in the Trending section.
The system doesn’t appear to be working as well as it should be. It was noted today that the first story in the September 11th Anniversary tab was one from Daily Star which had the headline “September 11: The footage that ‘proves bombs were planted in the Twin Towers.” The article basically covers a 9/11 truther story that the towers were intentionally blown up using bombs and the planes collided into the towers as a cover up.
A spokeswoman for Facebook confirmed that the company is aware that a hoax article found its way to the Trending section, adding that “as a temporary step to resolving this we’ve removed the topic.”
One could argue that Facebook could have easily replaced the hoax story with a genuine one that was also gaining traction on the world’s largest social network, so why did it have to remove the entire topic altogether? Facebook is yet to clarify its thinking behind this decision.
— Jessica Contrera (@mjcontrera) September 9, 2016
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