If you think that you’ll get fresh unbiased news from Facebook Inc , you might be in for an unpleasant surprise. Facebook’s trending news module has gone bonkers after the firm sacked its human editors. Over the weekend, the site syndicated a news story titled “BREAKING: Fox News Exposes Traitor Megyn Kelly, Kicks Her Out For Backing Hillary.” The problem however is that Fox news has not fired Megyn Kelly and neither has she endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.
Apart from fake news, the algorithm behind Trending news has also been guilty of pushing out offensive and inappropriate news. For instance, it picked up a #McChicken hashtag from Twitter to link to a story link of a video of a man masturbating with a McDonald’s sandwich. Human editors would definitely not curate such news to the news feed. In another story, Trending got into racist issues when a headline line reading: “SNL Star Calls Ann Coulter a Racist C*nt.”
Don’t trust Facebook Trending News module, yet
Facebook’s Trending feature has come under much criticism for biased reporting against conservatives. However, in a bid to show its objective and unbiased stance to news reporting, Facebook has reportedly fired all the human editors of its Trending feature. Nonetheless, the first thing that its news AI published without human intervention was a piece of fake news that is skewed against conservatives.
Of course, Mark Zugerberg has expressed his displeasure over a Trump candidacy and it is obvious that he would rather have Hillary as president instead of Trump. The criticism for Facebook Trending news was also increased after a former editor leaked internal training materials to the public. It appeared that the firm was tacitly teaching its human editors to source news from sources that were traditionally skewed against conservatives.
Was Facebook’s decision to fire human editors smart?
Facebook is trying to get a foothold in the news industry as part of efforts to turn the social network site into something more than a place to share cute cat pictures and videos. The firm has Instant Articles, which it does in partnership with indie and traditional publishers. Facebook also has a Trending feature that syndicates news stories to the news feed of its users.
Facebook’s Trending news module is designed to use a smart algorithm to pick up news stories that appeal to the largest number of users on the platform. However, the algorithm needs to learn from human editors in order to know what makes a news story factual and trending and in order to weed out repetitive stories. Hence, the firm has a team of human editors whose job teach the AI how to make curation decisions.
Now, the firm has fired all the human editors on its Trending team in the hopes of allowing news stories to be sorted and syndicated objectively. The firm says, “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.”