Addressing concerns over its controversial Trending Topics feature, Facebook says its automation will be increased and users will no longer be required to write descriptions for trending topics.
A more algorithmically driven process will allow the Facebook team to scale Trending to cover more topics and make it available to more people globally over time.
A report in technology website Gizmodo recently accused Facebook of an editorial bias against US conservative news organisations, sparking sharp reactions from across the spectrum.
“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,” the company said in a post on Saturday.
Trending Topics, which was introduced in 2014, was designed to help people discover interesting and relevant conversations happening on Facebook – about breaking news and events from around the world.
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).
“Now, instead of seeing a story description in Trending, you’ll now see a simplified topic – for example, #PhelpsFace or NASA – as well as the number of people talking about that particular topic on Facebook,” the post read.
To see more about what people are saying about a topic, you can hover over it or click on it.
A search results page will include the news sources that are covering it, posts discussing it and an automatically selected original news story with an excerpt pulled directly from the top article itself.
“As before, articles and posts that appear in search results are surfaced algorithmically, based on a high volume of mentions and a sharp increase in mentions over a short period of time,” the post added.
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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.
According to Facebook, it shared more information about Trending in response to questions about alleged political bias in the product.
“We looked into these claims and found no evidence of systematic bias. Still, making these changes to the product allows our team to make fewer individual decisions about topics,” the post replied.