According to various stories going around, it appears as if Facebook is taking action based on a widespread backlash that spawned from a report on Gizmodo about Facebook biases being implemented into the trending section by a team of contractors. The social media giant has supposedly replaced those humans with AI operated algorithms.
According to Quartz, they’re reporting that they’ve claimed from multiple sources that the team who was previously in charge of the trending section of Facebook have been removed. This was confirmed by Facebook with a post on the site indicating that they have indeed fired the human contractors behind the trending manipulation. On the official Facebook site, they report…
“Today, we’re making some changes to the Trending feature on Facebook that will make the product more automated and will no longer require people to write descriptions for trending topics.
“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.”
The initial report from Gizmodo was that the team leaned heavily to the left when it came to politically motivated stories, opting to force-feed stories that some might consider to be Social Justice Warrior topics, doing so in order to get people to care about the news.
Worse yet is that there were allegations that the team were purposefully removing Conservative news topics that were trending organically, some of which included Donald Trump and other news from sources like Breitbart.
Facebook issued a statement denying the claims that there was any kind of systematic manipulation going on and that all of the trends were organically formulated from user interactions, but they later updated their service notice to inform users that they may promote trends systematically.
According to Quartz, Facebook has continued to deny that humans manipulated the trends, but are putting a group of engineers in position to oversee the operation of the automated AI that will utilize algorithms to promote trends based on user interest. The engineers’ job is to ensure that “mundane” or less-than-interesting topics or keywords don’t flood the trending section.
This is partly in response to a growing backlash from average users who feel as if media lately has been under heavy influence from strong political motivators. Twitter has also come under heavy fire recently for also subjugating users to censorious tactics such as shadowbans and automated filters that remove a lot of topics from feeds of users without their say.
It’s likely imperative that users keep a close eye on Facebook throughout the heated election season as users will likely be championing (for or against) both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump using social media. And given how influential social media is in this day and age, a strong potentiality for manipulation will be ever present.