Facebook’s Trending blunders illustrate the need for human fact-checkers

facebook trending fake news blunders mobile
Facebook could be forced back to the drawing board in order to fix its newly automated Trending topics section after its algorithm suffered two consecutive blunders.

Last week, the social network pushed ahead with its plans to implement an algorithmic Trending feed in response to the allegations of bias, which mutated into a full-blown backlash earlier this year. However, Facebook’s more independent Trending news section is now back in the spotlight following back-to-back errors.

The trouble started on Monday when users spotted a fake news story in the Trending feed. The false article claimed Fox News had fired its popular anchor Megyn Kelly due to her allegiance with Hillary Clinton’s campaign. To add insult to injury, the preview that accompanied the story was full of grammatical errors and typos — Facebook had previously assigned the task of composing article blurbs to its human editors.

Things went from bad to worse when another Trending topic — this time in the form of a seemingly innocent hashtag that was related to a wholly inappropriate video — fooled the system. The complaints started pouring in via social media on Monday when unaware users clicked on the #McChicken hashtag in the Trending feed. The term turned out to be linked to an obscene video of a man performing a sexual act with the McDonald’s burger in question. It was the flurry of outraged, and humorous, user reactions that resulted in the hashtag being picked up by trending algorithms on both Twitter and Facebook in the first place, reports Business Insider.

Weirdly enough, Facebook had assured users that it would still employ humans to double-check that randomly popular terms (such as #lunch) weren’t making the list due to their irrelevance. Nonetheless, the company was convinced that “a more algorithmically driven process” was the best way forward. It turns out the social network’s semi-autonomous method still has some bugs in the system.

Just as damaging could be the reports of Facebook’s firing of its entire team of human editors, who were shown the door on the day the changes were revealed, according to Quartz. The original report that led to the entire Trending backlash also carried allegations of mistreatment from ex-workers, who felt they were entirely expendable to the company. Judging from the algorithm’s latest missteps, Facebook may need to welcome its human editors back into the fold.


Bethesda's sharp new Elder Scrolls mobile game is blunted by microtransactions

Elder Scroll: Blades brings elements of the most popular open-world RPG to mobile phones. It has many of the features fans will expect but, in its current Early Access state, lacks the real charm and depth of its predecessors.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX’s main Falcon Heavy booster is lost at sea after falling off drone ship

SpaceX has lost the center core of its Falcon Heavy rocket after a successful mission last week that ended with it landing on a drone ship. SpaceX said rough seas resulted in the rocket toppling over and falling into the ocean.

Have an issue with your 3DS? We can help you fix it with these common solutions

The Nintendo 3DS has seen its fair share of issues since it launched in 2011, including poor battery life and fragile Circle Pads. Here are some of the most common, as well as the steps you can take to solve them.

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Social Media

Your Facebook newsfeed is getting a spring cleaning, and so is Messenger

Hows that newsfeed looking? Facebook has shared an update on efforts to clean up the newsfeed, as well as what tools are coming next. Facebook has new Trust Indicators, while Messenger gains badges for verified accounts.
Social Media

Looking to officially rid your inbox of Facebook messages? Here's how

Deleting messages from Facebook Messenger is almost as easy as scrolling through your News Feed. Here, we show you how to delete an entire conversation or a single message, both of which take seconds.
Social Media

LinkedIn: Now you can express love, curiosity, and more with new Reactions

LinkedIn is following in the footsteps of Facebook (three years later!) with the rollout of new reactions that give users more ways to express themselves when responding to posts in their feed.
Social Media

Twitter’s experimental Twttr app is even more popular than the real thing

Twttr, the new app that lets regular Twitter users test new features, is proving more popular than the main app, according to the company. The revelation suggests some of the innovations may land for all Twitter users soon.
Social Media

Messenger and Facebook, together again? Facebook tests integrating chats

Longing for the old days where Facebook and Messenger were one app? Facebook is testing an integrated chat option. While Messenger remains more feature-rich, the test brings some chat functionality back into the Facebook app.
Social Media

How to download Instagram Stories on iOS, Android, and desktop

Curious about how to save someone's Instagram Story to your phone? Lucky for you, it can be done -- but it does take a few extra steps. Here's what you need to know to save Instagram Stories on both iOS and Android.
Social Media

Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp went down worldwide for 2 hours this morning

Chaos erupted on the internet this morning, as Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp all went down from 6:30 a.m. to approximately 9 a.m. Thousands of users were unable to access the sites or send or receive Whatsapp messages.

Skype screen sharing for mobile will let you share your swipes on dating apps

Skype is prepping the launch of screen sharing for mobile so you can share your swipes on dating apps, shop with buddies, or, perhaps, show a PowerPoint presentation to coworkers. It's in beta just now, but anyone can try it.
Social Media

Facebook toys with mixing Stories and News Feed into one swipeable carousel

Facebook's News Feed could look a lot like Stories if a prototype the social media giant is working on rolls out to users. The design change mixes Stories and News Feed posts into a full-screen slideshow that users swipe left to navigate.
Social Media

No more moon showers as Facebook Messenger’s dark mode gets official rollout

Facebook Messenger launched a dark mode last month, but to activate it you had to message the crescent moon to someone. Now it's been rolled out officially, and it can be accessed in a far more sensible way — via settings.