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Facebook’s Trending Topics

By Michael Yang

After concerns regarding the potential bias of Facebook’s trending feature, Facebook recently started automating the process, removing human curators in exchange for an algorithm which picks out key phrases that are currently popular or trending. However, despite this, Facebook’s trending feature is still, to a certain extent, biased.

Without human curators and moderators, Facebook has no way to guarantee the news stories that are featured are legitimate. The algorithm that Facebook uses for its trending feature uses only the popularity of various keywords in determining the legitimacy of a story; thus, it can easily be fooled, leading to fake stories and hoaxes appearing. The algorithm is reliant on the data which it receives, meaning even if the bot works as intended, events that aren’t really ‘newsworthy’, or that are intentionally misleading, may be picked up and put on the trending page, which is obviously harmful to the credibility of Facebook.

Until Facebook’s system becomes intelligent enough to tell the difference between a hoax and an actual event, human moderators are needed to make sure the trending section remains accurate. Using an algorithm to sort it not only does not get rid of bias, it enhances it.

About Michael Yang

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