Recently there was a controversy about Facebook Trending Topics being manipulated by human editors. There was even news of freedom of expression of Republican political candidates being suppressed on Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg had to personally intervene.
Artificial intelligence is improving and consequently, the algorithms that decide the relevancy and topicality of a particular news item or a piece of conversation, are also improving. This Friday Facebook changed the controversial practice of its human employees deciding which stories should be pushed forward and which stories should be held back in its Facebook Trending Topics section. Unfortunately, the people who had been hired by Facebook to control the Trending Topics have been laid off according to various bits of news appearing on the Internet. It was alleged that the Facebook Trending Topics news creators and editors were instructed to “inject” stories into the trending section even when they were not trending and hold back the stories that were actually trending.
Facebook, in its latest blog post, says that Facebook Trending Topics will be totally depending on algorithms so that a wider audience can be accommodated, coming from different geographical regions of the world. They are trying to make the product more automated because with a number of stories appearing on the web eventually it wouldn’t be humanly possible to go through each and every story and then write descriptions for them. The human editors in the Facebook Trending Topics section were primarily assigned the task of writing descriptions for various emerging news items.
As of now, it will be difficult for algorithms to write descriptions of trending topics. So the display of topics is going to be simplified. It will show a hashtag or trending keyword along with the number of people talking about a particular topic on Facebook. This will be based on the number of times the post has been originally published and the number of mentions, shares and likes the topic has received.