Facebook is turning its news section almost entirely over to the machines.
Facebook has changed Trending Topics to rely on algorithms to surface and sort news, the company announced on Friday, just months after the section was the center of controversy over alleged editor bias.
The move “will make the product more automated and will no longer require people inside Facebook to write descriptions for trending topics,” the company noted in a blog post.
The change comes after the company was alleged to have employed editors in Trending that had discriminated against conservative news outlets. The allegations were serious enough that CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with conservative leaders to assure them that the company was not biased against conservative-leaning outlets.
Facebook is justifying the move as a way to roll out Trending to a wider audience, adding that the company plans to make the feature available to more people around the world. The Facebook was testing a Trending Topics variation that appeared to have removed editor-written headlines.
There will be two main changes. The first (and most immediately noticeable) will be the elimination of headlines in favor of topics — Facebook used the examples #PhelpsFace or Nasa — along with how many people are talking about those topics.
Clicking or hovering over those topics with your mouse will then take users to a search results page that will feature posts from news outlets and people.
At the top of the page will be an “algorithmically-selected original news source” with an excerpt from that source’s article. No more editors selecting which news outlets to use, as had been the procedure before.
Facebook reassured the public that topics are still going to be personalized based on things like the pages you’ve liked, your location and the topics you’ve previously interacted with.
The company also noted that there’s still humans involved to check that the topics remain newsy. That’ll be about all they’re required to do, as the system now relies “on an algorithm to pull excerpts directly from news stories.”