Facebook has removed descriptions from Trending topics. The announcement comes months after being criticized for having an anti-conservative bias.
Since Facebook Trending launched in 2014, you would see a topic followed by a description that was written by a human. For example:
How Facebook Trending Is Changing
Heading forward, all you’ll see is a list of trending topics that have been identified by Facebook’s algorithm.
Facebook will also tell you how many people are talking about that topic. This number is based on “the number of original posts that mention the topic and shares of posts about the topic.”
For example, here’s what’s trending on my Facebook as of this writing:
Hovering over a topic will show you a headline, an excerpt, a source, and other pages with popular posts on that topic.
When you click on a topic, let’s say Mila Kunis, you’ll be taken to Facebook search results page. You’ll see top posts from publications and top public posts. In this case, the results are about Kunis’ baby bump and the 18th anniversary of the premiere of “That ’70s Show”.
Machines Are (Mostly) Taking Over
All of these results are generated algorithmically, with Facebook giving higher preference to topics that receive a high volume of mentions.
You’ll also continue to see topics that are personalized for you, based on factors such as pages you’ve liked, where you live, and trending topics you’ve interacted with in the past.
Human oversight will continue, Facebook noted. This is to ensure the topics that appear within Trending section are related to news events, not just something like lunch, which is a popular topic on Facebook every day.
Why Is Facebook Removing Trending Descriptions?
Back in May Facebook came under fire after Gizmodo published an article detailing how the news curation team had suppressed conservative news.
Facebook, not surprisingly, could find no evidence of political bias.
However, Facebook noted they made these changes to Trending sooner than expected, “given the feedback we got from the Facebook community earlier this year.”
Featured image: Facebook
Image 1: Screenshot via Gizmodo
Image 2: Screenshot taken by author