Facebook Set To Overhaul Its Controversial Trending Topics

Posted: May 24 2016, 3:41am CDT | by , in News | Technology News

Facebook set to Overhaul its Controversial Trending Topics
Facebook Trending Topics

Reiterating that an internal investigation revealed no evidence of systematic political bias in the selection or prominence of stories in its "Trending Topics" feature, Facebook is set to revamp the controversial feature in response to a Senate inquiry into allegations of an editorial bias against conservative news organizations.

In a blog post on Tuesday, Colin Stretch, Facebook General Counsel said the social networking giant has sent John Thune, Chairman of the US Senate Commerce Committee, a follow-up letter setting out its findings and conclusions.

While "our data analysis indicated that conservative and liberal topics are approved as trending topics at virtually identical rates, at the same time, our investigation could not fully exclude the possibility of isolated improper actions or unintentional bias in the implementation of our guidelines or policies," Stretch posted.

"As part of our commitment to continually improve our products and to minimize risks where human judgment is involved, we are making a number of improvements to Trending Topics," he added.

The revamping includes an updated terminology in its guidelines to make them more clear and a refresher training for all reviewers that emphasizes that content decisions may not be made on the basis of politics or ideology.

We will also have additional controls and oversight around the review team, including robust escalation procedures," the post read.

Media reports accused Facebook of an editorial bias against conservative news organizations, sparking sharp reactions from across the spectrum.

"We will no longer rely on lists of external websites and news outlets to identify, validate or assess the importance of particular topics. This means we will eliminate the "Media 1K" list, the list of RSS feeds used to supplement the algorithm that generates potential trending topics, and the top-10 list of news outlets," Stretch announced.

"We are also removing the ability to assign an "importance level to a topic through assessment of the topic's prominence on the top-10 list of news outlets and will expand our help centre content on Trending Topics to provide more information about this feature and how it works," Facebook added.

"Trending Topics" was launched in 2014 to surface major conversations happening on Facebook.

It appears on right-hand side on desktop as well as when you tap on the search box in the mobile app and primarily for people using Facebook in English (there are limited tests being run in Spanish and Portuguese).

"Suppressing political content or preventing people from seeing what matters most to them is directly contrary to our mission. We are proud of the platform and community we have created, and it is important to us that Facebook continues to be a platform for all ideas," Stretch pointed out.

Facebook will continue to work to improve the feature, as well as to seek feedback from people who use the service to make sure Facebook remains a platform for all ideas, he said.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/2" rel="author">Luigi Lugmayr</a>
Manfred "Luigi" Lugmayr () is the founding Chief Editor of I4U News and brings over 25 years experience in the technology field to the ever evolving and exciting world of gadgets, tech and online shopping. He started I4U News back in 2000 and evolved it into vibrant technology news and tech and toy shopping hub.
Luigi can be contacted directly at ml[@]i4u.com.




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