Facebook’s popular Trending section suffered a major mishap Monday, just three days after its programming switched from human hands to an automated algorithm.
The section, which is featured on the top right of the social network’s pages, posted an erroneous report that Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly was fired from the network. The Washington Post was first to report Facebook’s error.
Kelly’s name topped the Trending section on Monday morning. Before Friday, a brief description would appear alongside a topic, explaining why it was trending. However, Facebook removed the editor-written descriptions with the algorithm switch.
After the change, Facebook users could still hover above a trending topic and get a pop-up description. The headline for the one for Kelly read: “BREAKING: Fox News Exposes Traitor Megyn Kelly, Kicks Her Out For Backing Hillary.” See a screenshot below.
It was followed by a typo-filled description that read, “The Klelly [sic] File’s ratings have even fallen behind Maddow Show on MSNB [sic].” Those errors alone would’ve led human editors to question the legitimacy of the piece, but the story was posted regardless.
When rolling out the automated algorithm last Friday, Facebook explained “a search results page will include the news sources that are covering it, posts discussing it and an automatically selected original news story with an excerpt pulled directly from the top article itself.” In this case, the original news story was factually incorrect.
The Kelly post was reportedly in the Trending section for several hours before it was removed. Facebook has yet to respond to the error.
The removal of human editors and hand-written descriptions last week came after Gizmodo reported stories with a conservative tone or subject were being suppressed from the Trending section back in May. CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded, “We take this report very seriously and are conducting a full investigation to ensure our teams upheld the integrity of this product.” Following the investigation of political bias, Zuckerberg said, “We have found no evidence that this report is true.” Zuckerberg also met with conservatives, including radio host Glenn Beck and Donald Trump policy advisor Barry Bennett, to discuss “Trending.”