The Facebook trending bar has become a contentious point in media having been plagued by accusations of human bias against right-wing sources in the US, during the weekend however, it failed to suppress a fake right-wing story.
The social media network sacked its entire news editing team on Friday, the department which collated and described the trending current affairs on the site. It now relies upon algorithms and engineers likened to janitors to confirm content is linked to current affairs. Following the purge, a fake story claiming Fox anchor Megyn Kelly was getting sacked for showing her support of Hillary Clinton became a top trend on the site.
The story from right-wing news site EndingTheFed.com received substantial shares online, opening it to a mass audience with the accuracy of the its claims Megyn Kelly is “traitor” to the network unchecked. The sacked editorial team would have likely caught the error of the trend from the obscure news source rubbing salt in the social network's wounds. With Facebook one of the largest media platforms in the world, it is now in a position where unverified stories from minor outlets can gain widespread exposure although it has promised to correct its practises.
Justin Osofsky, vice president of global operations, told CBS News: “This was a mistake for which we apologise, and it has been corrected.”
He added: “We also want to share a bit more context on how it happened. A topic is eligible for Trending if it meets the criteria for being a real-world news event and there are a sufficient number of relevant articles and posts about that topic. Over the weekend, this topic met those conditions and the Trending review team accepted it thinking it was a real-world topic.
"We then re-reviewed the topic based on the likelihood that there were inaccuracies in the articles. We determined it was a hoax and it is no longer being shown in Trending. We’re working to make our detection of hoax and satirical stories quicker and more accurate.”
The New Yorker’s social media editor Saira Khan spent some time on Facebook's trending editorial team, she aired her concerns about the working conditions - and some of her favourable moments there - on Twitter.