Now it seems the algorithm prefers news that is made up but is loved by the great unwashed who can’t tell the difference.
The Washington Post has been recording which topics were trending for on the platform for the last few weeks.It seems that the top five stories which the site is claiming are news stories are works of fiction.
Four accounts were tracked from 31 August to 22 September. During that time, the Post uncovered five trending stories that were indisputably fake and three that were profoundly inaccurate.
“On top of that, we found that news releases, blog posts from sites such as Medium and links to iTunes regularly trended. Facebook declined to comment about Trending on the record,” the Post muttered.
They got on the blower to one of the sacked people who used to oversee trending who said he was not surprised as the functionality of the algorithm was different from what Facebook expects.
“It was beyond predictable by anyone who spent time with the actual functionality of the product, not just the code. Facebook personalises its trends to each user but the observation that Facebook periodically trends fake news still stands — if anything, we’ve underestimated how often it occurs."
A lot of the stories are aggregated by neo-nazi groups hoping to spread their usual race hate. But there were also stories which claimed that the iPhone had magical powers. This was circulated by Apple Fanboys who thought it was true but it came from one of those “made up news” sites which Americans mistakenly call satire.
Facebook trended a news release from the “Association of American Physicians and Surgeons” — a discredited libertarian medical organization and a story claiming that the September 11 attacks were a “controlled demolition”.
Facebook’s Trending feature is supposed to serve as a snapshot of the day’s most important and most-discussed news, made possible by a combination of algorithms and a team of editors. One algorithm surfaces unusually popular topics, a human examines and vets them, and another algorithm surfaces the approved stories for people who will be most interested.