Facebook has been caught amid a lot of controversy for suppressing stories within ‘Trending Topics’ feature but now to do some damage control, it is introducing some much-needed changes to the feature. This update will make the product more automated and less dependent on human scribers for writing descriptions for trending topics.
Trending Topics was introduced to the mix of social media in 2014 when Facebook decided to copy Twitter and help people discover breaking news and conversations happening on the platform. But Facebook has since then been accused of injecting irrelevant stories to the top, while suppressing controversial viewpoints on the homepage and in search results.
Well, the company is now phasing out those topic descriptions in favor of a more algorithmically driven process. This will allow Facebook to scale and add personalization features to the product, making it available to more people globally over time. Though this is a step forward based on community suggestions, but somewhat of a loss as you’d now not be able to read descriptions up front.
The largest social network on the planet is as usual taking cues from the widely popular news breaking social platform — Twitter. It is now ditching the descriptions in favor of showing the amount of people talking about a certain popular topic on the platform. This is algorithmically determined by the the number of original posts that mention the topic and shares of posts over a short period of time. Yeah, as if humans would count the number of posts shared.
Instead of showing the description alongside the trending topic, Facebook is now hiding the same behind the topic name. You’ll now need to hover on the trending topic to know more what people are talking about. This description will also show an excerpt pulled directly from the top news article itself. You can also click it to reach a search result page that includes the news sources that are covering it, and posts discussing it.
Facebook is removing ”some” humans, who slowed down progress, from the equation to provide you with better tailored ‘Trending Topics’ based on your interest, location or pages you visit regularly. There will still be some human involvement in the process to ensure the news and its high-quality. Facebook, in the blogpost, also mentions that it has changed its terms and policies to reflect the changes related to trending topics. It is now also planning to expand scope beyond English and bring the feature to other global languages very soon.
This update will allow less human intervention in the decision-making process of what’s trending and what’s not. It has also commented on the political bias saying that there was no evidence of the same. With a 1.71 billion people using its platform, Facebook concludes by saying,
[It] is a platform for all ideas, and we’re committed to maintaining Trending as a way for people to access a breadth of ideas and commentary about a variety of topics.