Facebook Tweaks Trending Topics Algorithms To Stomp Out Rampant Fake News

Facebook has been on a fake news hunt for the past few months. Its latest algorithm is intended to not only prevent fake news, but improve the overall Trending experience. The improvements are largely based on user feedback.

The biggest and most requested change is that Facebook will now display a headline from a publisher’s article about a particular topic. How will the publishers be chosen? The headlines will be selected based on engagement around the actual article or publisher, and whether or not others are linking to the publisher’s article. After clicking on the topic, users will be taken to a personalized results page that will have additional sources.

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Facebook is also altering how topics will be chosen. In the past, topics often trended around high engagement with a single post or article. The algorithm will now choose topics based on the number of publishers posting articles and the engagement surrounding them on Facebook.

In the past, topics were based on someone’s interest. For example, if you have any of the Star Wars films listed as your favorite movie, or if you often click on news related to the franchise, news about the The Last Jedi probably popped up in your trending section. Now, everyone in the same region will see similar topics.
Facebook is optimistic that its latest changes will help prevent the spread of fake news. the company noted, “Today’s update may also help prevent hoaxes and fake news from appearing in Trending because the updated system identifies groups of articles shared on Facebook instead of relying solely on mentions of a topic.” The Trending topics are selected by an algorithm, but they are still reviewed by a team to make sure that they are real.

The Trending feature is currently available in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and India. The latest update will start rolling out to the United States today.