Facebook to change how it chooses trending topics, following inquiry

By Prasid Banerjee | Published on 24 May 2016
  • The controversy around Facebook's trending topics led to a US Senate inquiry.

Facebook to change how it chooses trending topics, following inquiry

Following the controversy over Facebook’s Trending Topics section, the company, in response to a US Senate inquiry, has said that it’s altering how trends are selected. Facebook’s news operation will not depend on the top 10 websites any more. These included websites like The Washington Post, New York Times and CNN. The top 10 websites list was used to determine whether a particular topic is newsworthy or not.

Further, Facebook is also getting rid of the list of websites used for determining relevance of stories, and the RSS feeds that fed to its algorithms. This list includes over 1000 websites, which Facebook uses to judge the relevance of new stories. Facebook’s General Counsel Colin Stretch said that the company’s investigations haven’t revealed any evidence of systematic political bias. According to Facebook, there’s no evidence to substantiate claims that certain news sources had been suppressed. Stretch said that most of the subjects had been included in the Trending Topics section.

Facebook did, however, acknowledge that “isolated improper actions or unintentional bias” is something that is possible. The company said that it’s changing the way trends are decided now, to avoid this. The section will now be more heavily dependent on algorithms that Facebook has.

The changes made by Facebook are in response to a US Senate inquiry, by the Senate Commerce Committee, earlier this month. Senator John Thune, who leads the committee, send a letter to Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, following a series of reports by technology blog, Gizmodo.

Source: Facebook, Thune Statement

Prasid Banerjee
Prasid Banerjee

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