In recent months, Facebook has faced several heated controversies regarding its Trending Topics news feed. First, there was the report by Gizmodo that alleged the feature’s human editors held a bias against conservative news stories. Then, Facebook fired all of its human editors. And finally, mere days after the site did that, a completely fake news story began to trend saying that Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly had been fired. Now, Facebook vowed this week to fight these fake trending topics the same way it combats spam in your News Feed — with more tech.
“We’ve actually spent a lot of time on News Feed to reduce [fake stories and hoaxes’] prevalence in the ecosystem,” said Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s head of News Feed. “We’re doing now some more similar work in Trending to improve the experience in a similar way… There’s a lot of room for improvement, not only with Trending but also with News Feed.”
Mosseri also said that the lack of human editors couldn’t be blamed for fake stories appearing (including a recent 9/11 truther story that was promoted in the feature), and that such a thing could’ve occurred before all the editors were fired.
Though Facebook claims the lack of human intervention doesn’t make a difference in how its systems run, instances like these and recent live stream censorship controversies say otherwise.