Spotlight On: Facebook Trending Topics

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Spotlight On: Facebook Trending Topics
Spotlight On: Facebook Trending Topics

Gizmodo posted a story yesterday that cited anonymous former Facebook trending topic editors, who claimed they were told to suppress certain stories, including those about Facebook and those involving conservative sources. This came on the heels of another piece that depicted poor esteem of those workers and of the media industry as a whole. Facebook has denied this in subsequent comments, but few are convinced. 

Both reports validate the theory that people who spend all of their time in Facebook's walled garden will be subjected to a filtered, biased environment. Here's what you need to know:

  • The Gizmodo story is well sourced, if only anonymously. “Depending on who was on shift, things would be blacklisted or trending,” said the former curator.
  • That there were trending topic editors at all came as a surprise. Facebook has not spoken at length about its trending topics, but there was certainly some expectations that this was pure algorithm. Any human involvement in that feed's construction is bound to include bias. 
  • It is another example of how Facebook makes rules or changes on a whim. Marketers have long experienced this and with so many media brands depending on the Facebook traffic spigot, the stakes are incredibly high.

It will be interesting to see what Facebook does and says in the upcoming days.

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