Friday, September 9, 2016

Changes Made on FB Trending Module

FB Trending Module
Facebook's newly upgraded "Trending" module, barely three days old, has already made the rounds lately after promoting an article about Fox News host Megyn Kelly.

The article, which features the headline "Fox News Exposes Traitor Megyn Kelly, Kicks Her Out For Backing Hillary," was added to the trending section recently, according to a source at Facebook, who said that it was reviewed later and removed under questionable circumstance.

The article's promotion came after Facebook made significant changes to the influential Trending module, removing some human influence and making it more "automated," in an effort to address bias claims that it has faced in recent months.

The changes see the module reduced to topic names and small headlines (essentially keywords) instead of snippets written and published by human beings.

Human beings are still in the mix, the company said in a blog post on its website. Topics are served up by software that monitors the network for the most talked-about news, which is then filtered for publication on the module by human beings who are charged with filtering to make sure the topics are indeed newsworthy. In wake of the report about Kelly, a Facebook spokesperson said that the company was working to strengthen its detection of questionable stories.

However, according to Quartz, the changes also saw Facebook sack "the entire editorial staff" that previously worked with the module, leaving the Trending team to be "staffed entirely by engineers, who will work to check that topics and articles surfaced by the algorithms are newsworthy."

Asked about the Quartz report, a Facebook spokesperson told ABC News in an email: "In this new version of Trending we no longer need to draft topic descriptions or summaries, and as a result we are shifting to a team with an emphasis on operations and technical skill sets, which helps us better support the new direction of the product."

Human influence over the section, which has the ability to bring lots of eyeballs to news topics, has been the topic of heated controversy in recent months after a Gizmodo report in May in which an unnamed former journalist who worked on the project said that staff "routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers.”

In wake of the report, Facebook was forced to release more information about how the module - which sits prominently, just to the right of users' newsfeeds - worked.

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