Facebook Removes Personalized Topics, Updates Its Trending Feature In An Effort To Fight Fake News

Fake news was one of the biggest talking points of the second half of 2016. Countless allegations against many sites accusing them of producing content not based on facts, sometimes even completely false stirred up the internet for months. One of the biggest sites, Facebook, was the main target for fake news accusations. The site was attacked for promoting news articles that were clearly fake and not based on facts, especially after the company decided to use algorithms for picking trending articles.

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After facing the accusations, Facebook decided to improve its trending topics algorithm in order to finally rid of the fake news conquest that took Facebook by surprise. Starting January 25, Facebook’s trending topics software will only feature topics covered by a large group of trustworthy sources and publishers. In other words, for a topic to find its place into trending topics, it will have to be covered by renowned news outlets and publishers known for their accurate reporting.

The move should soon see first results, and we hope it will work. Further, Facebook decided to stop personalizing trending topics for individual users. Instead, the company will include a wide array of topics into the trending category so that anyone can find a couple of interesting topics to read about.

The allegations started during last spring, then the company was accused that its workers picked headlines for the trending feed based on their political views. The company responded by, as we already mentioned, firing those workers, replacing them with software, which only made things worse.

After Facebook made a couple of overhauls to its trending algorithm, the situation got better, and with the latest update, the problem should finally be solved. The update should remove fake new from the trending feed, and replace them with headlines originating from trustful sources.

The selection is based on several factors such as engagement, how many other articles cite a certain headline and more. Facebook explained that “previously, topics may have trended due to high engagement … around a single post or article.” Now, however, trending topics will be made out of headlines with high engagement that are covered by a large number of publishers.

Trending topics is available only in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and India. The changes were introduced on January 25.

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