Facebook made some big changes today to remove humans almost entirely from its controversial Trending Topics feature, removing the potential for editorialising the content shared on the social network.
As part of the change, Facebook eliminated the jobs of the 15 to 18 contractors hired to write short descriptions of each Trending Topics item, reports Quartz.
Those contractors reportedly only found out that their services at Facebook were no longer required at 4pm eastern time on Friday — the same time, more or less, that Facebook released a blog announcing the changes. Those contractors are said to have been given about six weeks’ worth of severance pay and asked to leave the building by 5pm.
Now, reports Quartz, the only humans involved with Trending Topics will be Facebook engineers who correct flaws in the algorithm, like ensuring that the same news item doesn’t show up on the list twice with slightly different names.
Facebook’s Trending Topics has been the subject of a lot of scrutiny since the spring of 2016, when former Trending Topics editors claimed that they were purposely suppressing conservative leaning news items from appearing on the list.
While Facebook’s internal investigation found no evidence of wrongdoing, the company has still taken steps to remove any appearance of impropriety. Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.