Facebook’s “Trending” feature will no longer leave room for human insight, as the mega company has integrated an automated system to choose what topics make the list. Refining their process of elimination on trending topics will allow the feature to gain reliability. Facebook’s “Trending” feature will now post the top 10 talked about topics based almost strictly on the numbers.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) August 27, 2016
These changes come as an indirect answer to recent accusations that the Facebook “Trending” section was left-wing biased. A former employee of the company expressed that topic finders “routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers.”
Facebook has publicly denied the accusations saying that an investigation was performed, and there was no evidence that the company expressed any sort of systematic bias. In layman’s terms, they took a look at their processes. After evaluating their overall performance, they saw nothing to support the claim. They did, however, choose to upgrade the Facebook “Trending” feature to show their efforts to remain neutral as a whole.
Many of Facebook’s editorial employees were released from their positions with minimal notice. This too has drawn up a cloud of controversy surrounding the company.
— Linda Suhler, Ph.D. (@LindaSuhler) August 27, 2016
The way topics are chosen was not the only change introduced to Facebook’s “Trending” module. To further neutralize the “Trending” list, Facebook has done away with descriptions. Descriptions derived from human employees could skew the message of the “Trending” articles. The new version of the list simply provides information concerning the number of people discussing the topic on Facebook. This description provides a more accurate portrayal of the buzz surrounding each entry on the list.
Facebook’s “Trending” feature will not be solely run by machines. Live staff will continue to be involved to assure the topics are actually relevant and based on timely news. Regulation will still be up to the humans.
“Facebook is a platform for all ideas, and we’re committed to maintaining ‘Trending’ as a way for people to access a breadth of ideas and commentary about a variety of topics,” said a representative from the company.
Facebook has grown to a user base of close to 2 billion. It was inevitable that eventually, someone would disagree with the way the company does business. The company has had to adapt to many changes along the way. This should not be a surprising hurdle for the media giant to clear. Facebook is still a young company. After only 12 years, Facebook has speedily grown to be a dominant leader in the field of social media, and there is no sign of slowing.
“A more algorithmically driven process allows us to scale ‘Trending’ to cover more topics and make it available to more people globally over time… This is something we always hoped to do but we are making these changes sooner given the feedback we got from the Facebook community earlier this year,” stated the company’s official statement.
Facebook “Trending” now has the ability to work faster and reach more users, because there is no time gap to consider. Human error and thought take up a little too much time when it comes to keeping up with trending news.
This may not mean much to a vast majority of Facebook users, but the company’s “Trending” module has really caused some controversy and headache for the social media giant in the past. People have an undying urge for justice, and if they feel as though they are being slighted in any way, there will always be an uprising of emotion. Maybe a more cold and calculated approach to the news is the best route for Facebook’s “Trending” section.
[Image by Paul Sakuma/AP Images]