Facebook has found itself making headlines the past few days due to its Trending Topics space. Word started spreading that the social media platform was artificially inserting stories with a liberal bias. Facebook denies this and released its guidelines concerning what stories are shown to be trending.
In short, the Facebook guidelines for Trending Topics are found by an algorithm and reviewed by the Trending Topics team. The Trending Topics are then personalized for the user. In this section, a range of media sources is given for the user to browse as they wish. There’s also an ability to search for different topics that don’t show up in the section.
A Major News Source
Facebook is in an interesting situation. It’s one of the main sources of information for millions of people around the world. It’s a platform where people can comment on what’s in the news in a way that wasn’t previously possible. The Trending Topics section isn’t the same for all users and is different depending on where a user lives.
In a release from Facebook, the Trending Topics section does not permit the suppression of political perspectives and does not permit the prioritization of one ideological viewpoint over another. Facebook claim that the Trending Topics team aren’t told to insert information with any political bias. The actions of the social media company in the real world show that it’s not just a liberal mouthpiece. Facebook is holding an event for the GOP, despite Mark Zuckerberg’s dislike of potential Republican nominee Donald Trump.
Keeping The Noise Out of Facebook Trending Topics
Some topics that trend are left out of the Trending Topics section. Words that are commonly used, such as weekend, sale, DVD and others aren’t given consideration. None of these are politically charged terms. Keeping the noise out of this section is important, as there’s a lot happening online. Trending Topics isn’t just about what’s popular online but what is important to users
According to Justin Osofsky, Vice President of global operations for Facebook, “The guidelines demonstrate that we have a series of checks and balances in place to help surface the most important popular stories, regardless of where they fall on the ideological spectrum. Facebook does not allow or advise our reviewers to systematically discriminate against sources of any political origin, period. What these guidelines show is that we’ve approached this responsibly and with the goal of creating a high-quality product – in the hopes of delivering a meaningful experience for the people who use our service.”