Everyone has at least on Facebook friend that shares false stories simply because the headline is so gosh darn incredible.
It seems now that Facebook itself has such a friend in the form of its Trending algorithm.
The trending feature was designed to help users find interesting discussions surrounding breaking news and global events.
Up until last week Friday this content was curated by a team of humans who used reliable news sources to prevent the algorithm from posting links to false news stories. We make mention of this because according to The Guardian the algorithm has been running amok.
At the weekend the algorithm pushed out an article from the website Ending the Fed titled – “BREAKING: Fox News Exposes Traitor Megyn Kelly, Kick Her Out For Backing Hillary”.
The story links back to another site, Conservative101 which doesn’t actually contain any information about this supposed firing of Kelly, who is still (at time of writing) employed by Fox News.
Facebook took action by removing the article but it wasn’t the only instance of the trending algorithm’s inability to push out relevant news.
Of swear words and chicken sandwiches
Users also report that the trending algorithm pushed out an article from The Daily Beast with the title “‘SNL’ Star Calls Ann Coulter a ‘Racist C*nt'” as well as a story from Mashable with the title “The terrible reason #McChicken is trending on Twitter”.
The latter story linked users to a story about a man masturbating in to a McChicken burger which is likely not on the list of things everybody wants to see.
In a perfect world the algorithm would have learned from the decisions the curators made as to what to share and what not to share: and applied that logic when it was fully automated. This doesn’t seem to have happened and it looks as if Facebook needs to do a bit of tweaking to the Trending algorithm.[Via – The Guardian]