Facebook has removed human involvement from the “Trending” feature added to the website in 2014 which identifies interesting content about breaking news.
The move was announced on Friday and has already led to claims that the network begun promoting more bogus stories.
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The change has potentially huge implications for news websites which rely on Facebook for much of their traffic.
It follows changes in July which saw the social media giant give posts from friends greater prominence than posts from news publishers.
In a blog post, Facebook said: “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 changes mean that “trending” topics no longer feature a description written by a person – but simply a keyword identified by a computer.
Removing human involvement could also limit Facebook’s legal liability for content.
Facebook 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.”
According to news website Quartz: “Quartz confirmed from multiple sources that Facebook has laid off the entire editorial staff on the Trending team—15-18 workers contracted through a third party. The Trending team will now be staffed entirely by engineers, who will work to check that topics and articles surfaced by the algorithms are newsworthy.”