Facebook automates selection of its Trending Topics

The social media network is rolling out the new algorithms earlier than it planned to, following charges of political bias.

Facebook on Friday announced it's rolling out a new, heavily automated version of its "Trending Topics" feature. The company is launching its new algorithms earlier than planned, following charges earlier this year that the Facebook employees curating Trending Topics were inserting their own political bias onto the feature.

Instead of requiring people to write descriptions of the trending topics, Facebook will simply display the topics with an indication of how many users are sharing posts on the subject or mentioning it in an original post. The topics a user sees depends on several variables, such as that individual user's location, the pages they've liked and topics trending across Facebook overall.


"Our goal is to enable Trending for as many people as possible, which would be hard to do if we relied solely on summarizing topics by hand," Facebook said in its blog post. 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 said it's still relying on humans to ensure that Trending Topics remain "high-quality -- for example, confirming that a topic is tied to a current news event in the real world." In other words, a user won't see "lunch" as a trending topic during lunch time, no matter how many people post about their meal.

The company also reiterated that it looked into the charges of bias and "found no evidence of systematic bias."