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Facebook tweaks trending news section to rely less on human curators

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Malcolm Vanderveen
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Facebook said Friday that human curators will no longer write descriptions for news stories in it s trending topics section, a feature that has raised concerns about political bias on the site.In May, Gizmodo reported that Facebook workers suppressed conservative news stories from the section.

While Facebook hasn t found any evidence to support those claims, the company s editorial guidelines did reveal that human editors have some influence over the process.

We looked into these claims and found no evidence of systematic bias.

Still, making these changes to the product allows our team to make fewer individual decisions about topics, Facebook said in the blog post.Facebook 1.7 billion users will no longer see a description under a trending topic, but an excerpt automatically pulled from a news article will appear if they hover or click on the topic.Quartz, citing anonymous sources, reported that the social media giant is laying off the editorial staff on the trending team and is relying more on engineers.

About 15 to 18 contractors lost their jobs.

According to sources, the Trending team s editorial staff were alerted at 4 p.m. that they were being fired—as the news of Facebook s switch to algorithms first broke—and were asked to leave the building by 5 p.m.

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Malcolm Vanderveen
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Zupyak is a free content platform for publishing and discovering stories, software and startups.