There might be a chance that Facebook is trending fake news, especially after firing its entire human editor team. There was a big controversy regarding how various pieces of news trend on Facebook and it was discovered that the human editors were not being exactly impartial. Then Facebook decided to depend entirely on algorithmic editors to eliminate the chances of human editors deciding what to trend and what to suppress. It seems, now Facebook is trending fake news.
Currently, how does the Facebook trending news algorithm decide which news is worthy of trending and which news is not? It depends on multiple parameters. It depends on the number of people talking about a particular subject or individual. It also depends on the speed with which a particular news is being shared. It also depends on the number of people liking or disliking a particular news story. It also refers to other social networking websites like Twitter to check out which pieces of news should trend. It should be a straightforward way of trending news algorithmically.
This Washington Post report talks about an investigation that tried to reveal exactly how many fake stories were being trended on Facebook.
First there was a genuine case of a piece of fake news being trended on Facebook, about an American journalist called Megyn Kelly who works at the Fox News Channel. The fake news was about her being fired from the channel, which was not true. It was a fake, planted news but it started trending on Facebook just after a few days the social networking website got rid of its human editors.
A few days ago, Washington Post’s Intersect team started tracking various stories trending on Facebook. It tracked the stories between August 31, 2016 and September 22, 2016. According to the findings, five Facebook trending stories were “indisputably fake” and three Facebook trending stories were “profoundly inaccurate”. There was even a fake story from a website that has the phrase “Fakingnews” in the domain name, although, this is not a reason not to trend a piece of news.
Although Facebook does not like to call itself a news website the way Twitter has started calling itself (at least in its App Store listing), Facebook does have a big impact on how a particular news is disseminated. In order to send out a strong signal that Facebook is not a news channel it fired human editors. But due to its presence, every bit of news spreads like wildfire on Facebook.