Facebook removes human editors from its trending news team

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A couple of months ago, our sister site Gadgetshere.com reported about how Facebook’s trending news topics are an indulgence in political bias, where reporters allegedly filtered and manually curated elements which were projected as automated trends as a result of its own algorithms.

On Friday, Facebook announced in a blog post that it’s getting rid of the human element in its sorting of trending news. Instead of human minds making the decision, the company now says the trending section will be computed by algorithmic processes which will simultaneously remove the erring human mind and allow Facebook to cover more trending news and make it available to more people over time.

“Earlier this year, we shared more information about Trending in response to questions about alleged political bias in the product. We looked into these claims and found no evidence of systematic bias. Still, making these changes to the product allows our team to make fewer individual decisions about topics. 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 Facebook in a blog post.

Because of this, the trending section itself is getting an overhaul. From now, instead of seeing a brief synopsis of the news, it will just show a simplified topic along with the number of people talking about it.

The engagement will be calculated based on the number of original posts that mention the topic or the number of shares of a post based on the topic.

To go in-depth, all one needs to do is hover over the topic or click on it. Facebook will show a search result page that will include news sources covering the topic, posts talking it and an algorithmically selected “original news story with an excerpt pulled directly from the top article itself.”

However, there’s now a catch. The trending topics will be personalized based on the pages you have liked, location and interaction with previous trending topics along with what is trending on Facebook overall.

There will still be people involved in the process though, who will work maintain the quality of the section ensuring the topics are tied to current news events breaking real time. But the changes incorporated will no longer see topic descriptions and short summaries of stories.

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Facebook removes human editors from its trending news team