Technology Other News 31 Aug 2016 Facebook ‘Tren ...

Facebook ‘Trending’ algorithm takes a crazy turn, shows fake news

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | SANSKRITI TALWAR
Published Aug 31, 2016, 11:33 am IST
Updated Aug 31, 2016, 11:39 am IST
On August 26, 2016, in a blog post Facebook announced to let a computer algorithm decide which news stories to share with users, and eliminate human editors in an effort to be more transparent.
 On August 26, 2016, in a blog post Facebook announced to let a computer algorithm decide which news stories to share with users, and eliminate human editors in an effort to be more transparent.

Last week, Facebook ditched its human editors, whose potential bias was reflected on its popular “Trending” feature, and deployed an algorithm to handle the entire job. However, within three days of its implementation, the fully automated “Trending” module flagged up a fake article.

Facebook trended a fake article about Fox News Anchor Megyn Kelly, which claimed that Fox News had fired Kelly for supporting Hillary Clinton, the nominee of the Democratic Party for president of the United States, reported theguardian.com. The fake article reads, “BREAKING: Fox News Exposes Traitor Megyn Kelly, Kicks her out for backing Hillary.”

In response, the Fox News marked the incident as an “egregious mistake” and requested Facebook to rectify the error at the earliest.

Apart from this, the Facebook “Trending Topic” module also pushed a controversial piece on rightwing pundit Ann Coulter, and links to video of a man masturbating with a McDonald’s chicken sandwich.

Facebook initiated the trending feature back in 2014. The feature shows its users most-talked about stories and topics on the top right-hand corner of Facebook’s home page with one-sentence description.

“We added Trending to Facebook in 2014, and similar to Search, Trending was designed to help people discover interesting and relevant conversations happening on Facebook, about breaking news and events from around the world,”  said Facebook.

In May, Facebook was accused of ‘bias’ in its “Trending” section, which is considered a major pathway to get news. As a result, on August 26, 2016, the company, in a blog post, announced to let a computer algorithm decide which news stories to share with users, and eliminate human editors in an effort to be more transparent.

“Our goal is to enable Trending for as many people as possible, which would be hard to do if we relied solely on summarizing topics by hand. A more algorithmically driven process allows us to scale Trending to cover more topics and make it available to more people globally over time. This is something we always hoped to do but we are making these changes sooner given the feedback we got from the Facebook community earlier this year,” wrote Facebook.

Many studies have proved Facebook to be a powerful tool that has direct influence on people’s thinking and behaviour. As of now, Facebook has about 1.7 billion people on its social network.

Facebook has removed the false article about Megan Kelly published by Endingthefed.com. However, depending on an algorithm to list topics in its “Trending” feature seems to be a setback for Facebook, especially when it comes to quality content.

Facebook's Trending The fake article about Fox News Anchor Megyn Kelly pushed by Facebook's algorithm. (Photo: theguardian.com/Facebook)

Facebook's TrendingPhoto: theguardian.com/Facebook

Facebook's TrendingPhoto: theguardian.com/Facebook

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