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Facebook, in a bid to prevent fake stories from appearing in Trending Topics section, will bring in new technology to its platform. Facebook’s News Feed head, Adam Mosseri, at TechCrunch Disrupt SF, said the technology is somewhat similar to what the company has rolled out for News Feed. Facebook’s Trending section came to spotlight earlier this year after a report on Gizmodo claimed the service was suppressing conservative views.
Following reports, Facebook made changes to Trending Topics, making it more driven by an algorithm, rather than human editors. The social media giant reportedly fired close to 18 editors who worked for Facebook’s Trending section.
However, Trending Topics was back in news again, after its algorithm put a hoax story about 9/11 at top of its list. The hoax story was linked to an article by The Daily Star which claimed that controlled explosions destroyed the World Trade Centre Towers in 2001. In another instance, Trending Topics ran fake news story about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, which claimed the news channel had fired Kelly for “backing Hillary (Clinton)”.
While many have blamed that fake stories started to show up in Trending Topics due to lack of Human editors; Mosseri said this is not the case. “It’s not the lack of human editors to blame for the mistakes that led to things like a fake, sensational story about Fox News’ Megyn Kelly to show up in Trending,” he said. Instead, he said that’s the sort of problem that could have happened before the change to an algorithm.
Mosseri explained, with less human editors curating stories, it is now easier for the company to expand Trending Topics for its international users. He added that earlier version of Trending Topics only allowed captions to be written in English, which was an issue. “A system where we talk about the topic and the number of people speaking about the topic actually scales better internationally,” Mosseri told TechCrunch, adding “and we care a lot about scaling.”
He admitted that Trending Topics still needs a lot of work, and rolling out the new technology will significantly improve the section. Facebook’s technology has been developed to subdue fake stories, clickbait and hoaxes for NewsFeed. And Facebook is bringing the same technology to Trending Topics. “We’ve actually spent a lot of time on News Feed to reduce [fake stories and hoaxes’] prevalence in the ecosystem,” said Mosseri.