Facebook No Longer Using Humans to Write Trending Topic Descriptions

trending topicsIn the aftermath of the story claiming Facebook’s human editors were unfairly suppressing conservative news content from the site’s “Trending Topics” section, Facebook has been making a number of changes to how it manages trending topics. As part of this, last Friday Facebook announced that they would no longer be using human editors to write the short story descriptions that accompany trending topics. Facebook is instead using its algorithm prowess to pull the excerpts directly from individual stories.

Curating Trending Topics

Facebook isn’t cutting humans out entirely, and will continue to use Facebook employees to select which stories make it into the trending section at all. And although an algorithm will help generate the most popular stories, editors will still need to weed out inappropriate or fake content. “There are still people involved in this process to ensure that the topics that appear in Trending remain high-quality,” says Facebook’s blog.

The Role of Automation

Facebook claims that automating store descriptions will help Trending Topics to expand into more countries and language. However, it’s evident that was not the actual catalyst. In their blog Facebook says, “This is something we always planned to but we are making these changes sooner given the feedback we got from the Facebook community earlier this year.” In other words, the stink about Facebook’s unfair curation was the driving force for this change.

A Fine Line

Companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat walk a fine line between a neutral accommodating platform, and a subjective media giant. Both Facebook and Twitter use algorithms that will suppress certain user posts, and those algorithms are still human-generated. It’s perhaps unreasonable to expect no bias at all. Regardless, it will be interesting to watch how human curation continues to play a role in this space.

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