Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Culling Facebook "Trending" Stories is a Good Thing

Facebook workers often omitted conservative political stories from the website's "trending" list, the technology news site Gizmodo said on Monday in a report that sparked widespread comment on social media.

An unnamed former Facebook employee told Gizmodo that workers "routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers," according to Gizmodo, while "artificially" adding other stories into the trending list.

Lets keep in mind this story is on Gizmodo, and is based on ONE anonymous alleged former employee. One. Anonymous.

Digging deeper, it appears that was was actually happening is that the Facebook "curators" would replace stories from sources that are questionable, and replace the story with one from a more mainstream source.  While that might mean that more "conservative political stories" are being removed, it might also mean that there are more wacko and unethical conservative websites out there. They would also remove hoaxes, regardless of how many people reviewed the story.

Remember, we are talking about the "Trending" section, on the top right of your Facebook Page. Your wall is not affected, you will still see all of the hoaxes and nonsense posted by your "friends."

Facebook has denied the reports and reading between the lines, Facebook is doing what most would agree is the right thing.  While claiming that the allegations would be not be “technically feasible," in a statement a Facebook spokesman said '[w]e have in place strict guidelines for our trending topic reviewers as they audit topics surfaced algorithmically....Reviewers are required to accept topics that reflect real world events, and are instructed to disregard junk or duplicate topics, hoaxes or subjects with insufficient sources." 

Isn't that what Facebook should be doing? It appears they are doing their users a service. There are enough hoaxes and lies on the Internet, and on Facebook timelines. I am confident that Facebook, has contributed to the dumbing down of our society. But this means that this portion of Facebook acts like any other news source, with editors culling stories, fact checking, and doing other "editorial" work. 

The reality is that Facebook is its users a favor if it engaged in such conduct, rather than continue to spread some of the absurd stories that come from these unknown websites who pretend to be a news source - conservative or liberal, they are all a danger to our well-being.

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