Science and TechSocial Media


People Want Facebook To Have A Human Editor After Algorithm Missteps

Facebook has had problems with its algorithm for trending topics. But switching back to humans might not be the answer.
Posted at 11:07 AM, Sep 11, 2016

You've probably heard Facebook's been having problems since it switched from a human team that picks trending topics to an algorithm.

The anniversary of 9/11 was a trending topic all this week. But the automated system that now controls those topics didn't just show actual news — it showed a conspiracy theory.

Facebook removed the anniversary from its trending topics Friday but not before being accused of insensitivity. Many called for the company to reinstate a human editor to control trending topics.

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This is at least the second time that a hoax article has appeared in Facebook's trending topics since the switch. In late August, the site feature was topped by a fake article claiming Fox News host Megyn Kelly had been fired.

But the thing is, humans don't always get it right in the public's eye either. The company actually dismantled its trending topics team last month following reports that bias was governing story selection.

And earlier this week, the human side of Facebook censored a Pulitzer-winning war photo that showed a young, naked girl running away from bombs on a street in Vietnam. 

Due to the site's "community standards," the photo was briefly removed. And people didn't like that either. 

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Part of the issue is that even though Facebook is fixing the problems, there's not a whole lot of ownership coming from the company.

Mark Zuckerberg has refused to acknowledge that Facebook is a media site at all, choosing instead to refer to it solely as a tech company.

And if the founder of Facebook doesn't seem willing to recognize the media site's power and reach, there's really not a whole lot anyone working for the company can do.