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Facebook's Trending Feature to be Algorithmically Driven

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Facebook Inc.’s Trending feature will now be more automated as the company contemplates lesser human intervention. The development comes after Facebook was accused of political bias earlier this year.

The company has done away with writing description for trending topics that required news curators to do the job. Instead, the trending topics will just have a hashtag and display the number of people talking about it. Moreover, pointing the cursor on the topic will display what people in general are talking about it. 

As per media reports, the company has fired its editorial staff in charge of writing descriptions for trending topics at an hour’s notice.

As per the blog post on Aug 26, 2016, Facebook stated “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.”

Facebook introduced Trending in 2014 whereby people get to know the latest news from around the world. However, in May 2016, a Gizmodo report, quoting an unnamed ex-Facebook contractor, alleged that Facebook intentionally concealed conservative news. The report caused massive uproar and prompted Senator John Thune to write a letter to Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg demanding an explanation.

After the allegations and the Senator’s letter, Facebook posted a full account of how “Trending Topics” selection works on its website. Zuckerberg also met fifteen key conservative leaders to assure them that Facebook is not prejudiced. However, Facebook did not deny the likelihood of human error in one of its earlier blog posts.

As a result, to minimize such instances, the social media service back then outlined new measures. These included updating the terminology in its Guidelines for better understanding and providing refresher training to all reviewers. It will no longer rely on external news websites “to identify, validate or assess the importance of particular topics.” 

However, Facebook added that it hasn’t totally eliminated human intervention from Trending. The company said “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. The topic #lunch is talked about during lunchtime every day around the world, but will not be a trending topic.”

At present, Facebook carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). Other stocks worth considering in the tech space are Asure Software, Inc. (ASUR - Free Report) , Bitauto Holdings Limited and GrubHub Inc. . While Asure Software sports a Zacks Rank #1, Bitauto and GrubHub carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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