Facebook's Trending Topics has been a major source of controversy in recent months because of allegations that some of its editors had been downplaying conservative news outlets.
The revelation that humans were involved in selecting what subjects and media outlets showed up in the section caught some by surprise. Those who watch Facebook closely knew that there was a human element to the system, but the company had seemed to be trying to downplay that as much as possible.
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This recent history is particularly interesting in regards to a test that Facebook is running around Trending topics.
The screenshot below was provided by Mashable advertising reporter Patrick Kulp, who noticed a change in the Trending Topics section on his Facebook homepage.
Here's what my Trending Topics section looks like, which is closer to its usual appearance.
Two things stand out here. First is the phrasing of the headlines. "national rifle association hillary clinton" doesn't provide much info aside from notifying us that there's some sort of issue between Clinton and the NRA, which makes sense.
Others are a bit more bizarre and less clear. "law order svu stephanie march breast implants" is, uh, weird. Then again, I'm almost definitely clicking on "marco rubio turkey attack."
The second thing that stands out is that the synopses have been replaced with how many people are talking about said topic.
Facebook declined to talk about the changes on the record, aside from a statement confirming that it has been testing changes to the Trending Topics section:
We routinely test small changes to our all of our products, and we’re now testing a new way to display Trending Topics in the right-side column of the web version of Facebook. In addition to simplified topic names, in this test we’re also displaying a count of the number of people who are talking about that topic on Facebook. This is testing to a small number of people in the US.
It's fairly clear that this "new way" to display Trending Topics doesn't involve humans writing headlines or synopses anymore. As far as that test goes, the only thing a human could have conceivably contributed was another layer of filtering to make sure nothing to gross, weird or controversial got through. And even then, the "law order svu stephanie march breast implants" one seems a little questionable.
In the wake of Trendgahzi, Facebook has been trying its best to prove to the world that it is unbiased. CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with some notable conservatives, and the company's recent News Feed tweak included the introduction of "values" that extoll the platform's openness to all ideas.
If anything, this test would seem to back up that claim while also showing why Facebook needed humans in the first place. Despite some programs being able to do things like write stories about minor league baseball games, summarizing headlines is still very hard.
That doesn't mean Facebook won't get there. It's hard to imagine Facebook not eventually figuring out a way to run trending topics with little or no human input. And when it does, it will be tests like this that paved the way.
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Source : https://mashable.com/2016/07/01/facebook-trending-bots/?geo=AUThanks you for read my article Facebook May Be Considering Taking Humans Out Of Trending Topics