In an apparent attempt to eliminate political bias from its trending topics section, Facebook recently announced that a new algorithm would take over writing descriptions of the top news stories. However, they may have rushed to introduce this update before it was ready.
The Washington Post reported that for several hours on Monday morning one of the top headlines on Facebook’s trending topics list was a false story about Fox News host Megyn Kelly from a blatantly biased source — endingthefed.com.
The story was headlined “BREAKING: Fox News Exposes Traitor Megyn Kelly, Kicks Her Out For Backing Hillary.”
The fake article, that originally appeared on the website Conservative 101, claimed that Kelly was forced out of her job at Fox News and is “a closet liberal who actually wants Hillary to win.”
The story was an extreme exaggeration based on a recent Vanity Fair article that mentions Kelly and fellow Fox News host Bill O’Reilly both have contracts expiring next year, and suggested the network may only be able to keep one of its popular personalities.
In a blog post announcing the updated trending topics feature, Facebook said: “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.”
Instead of seeing trending topics along with a short description, the site now shows the topic and the number of people posting about it, and users are able to hover over the topic to see “an automatically selected original news story with an excerpt pulled directly from the top article itself.”
Facebook assured that “there are still people involved in this process to ensure that the topics that appear in Trending remain high-quality — for example, confirming that a topic is tied to a current news event in the real world.”
This clearly wasn’t the case today.