Facebook Fires Human News Team

It's all about the algorithms now
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 27, 2016 8:02 AM CDT
Facebook Fires 'Trending' Journalists
FILE- In this April 12, 2016, file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during the keynote address at the F8 Facebook Developer Conference in San Francisco. Facebook say Monday, May 23, that it is dropping its reliance on news outlets to help determine what gets posted as a "trending topic" on...   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

Facebook had bad news for its news team on Friday: Sources tell Quartz that all 15-18 editorial staff on the Trending team were told at 4pm that they were being laid off and had to be out of the building by 5pm. The sources say the workers were given severance pay equivalent to their wages through to mid-September. The workers are out of a job because Facebook, apparently stung by controversies over alleged anti-conservative bias, has decided to drastically reduce the role that humans playing in choosing trending news stories to display to the site's users, the Washington Post reports.

From now on, the stories in the trending section will be chosen by algorithm and viewers will see only the topic name and the number of people talking about it, not a written description. "A more algorithmically driven process allows us to scale Trending to cover more topics and make it available to more people globally over time," Facebook explains in a blog post. The only humans involved in the Trending section will be engineers, who will check for inappropriate, fake, or non-newsworthy stories, Recode reports. (In an earlier attempt to get rid of bias, Facebook stopped letting news outlets nominate topics as trending.)

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