Inexperienced team behind Facebook's Trending Topics controversy?

Facebook has faced allegations of \"intentionally suppressing conservative news\" from appearing on Trending Topics.

Published: 22nd May 2016 04:23 PM  |   Last Updated: 22nd May 2016 04:23 PM   |  A+A-


NEW YORK: An inexperienced and unorganised team may have been controlling the now-controversial Trending Topics feature of Facebook, according to media reports.

The social networking giant has faced allegations of "intentionally suppressing conservative news" from appearing on Trending Topics -- a relatively new section of the site that shows the most popular news stories, technology website reported on Saturday.

"The Trending Topics team was a fledgling enterprise made up of a small, ill-managed group of recent college graduates with little to no work experience, charged with combing through mountains of materials unearthed by algorithms," The New York Times reported after conducting interviews with current and former Facebook employees.

The human component was needed, according to former employees cited by the Times, because roughly 40 percent of terms unearthed by algorithms were described as "junk", just common phrases users happened to use around the same time across the platform.

The influential newspaper said the Trending List on the social network was skewed by individual judgment and not institutional bias. 

Facebook employees in charge of the feature "were not directed to squelch conservative news on the site, nor would that be easily accomplished by a staff member who wished to do so", the report said.

While the subsequent inspection of the Facebook machine indicated intentional company-wide bias was near impossible, "unconscious bias" may be in play, as well as the ever-updating editorial guidelines, a 28-page document that made it hard for curators to keep up.

"We've reflected a lot", said Justin Osofsky, Facebook's vice president for global operations and media partnerships, which includes Trending Topics. 

He added that Facebook had "identified ways in which we should have improved".

Trending Topics was introduced in a handful of countries in January 2014 with a small staff based in New York. 

It was Facebook's first major attempt to comb through the avalanche of information being posted on the social network and to make it easier for people to find current events.

Stay up to date on all the latest Tech news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp