Facebook explains why it got rid of human news editors

Adam Mosseri
Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s vice president of product management and News Feed chief. Getty

Facebook fired human editors to make its Trending news section better for people who don’t speak English, News Feed chief Adam Mosseri said onstage at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference on Wednesday.

After a Gizmodo story claimed Facebook editors had suppressed conservative news from the Trending section, the social network fired those editors in favour of an algorithm. As part of the change, the Trending section no longer shows custom headlines and summaries of news topics.

The new design works better for Facebook users in non-English-speaking countries, according to Mosseri.

“Most of our users don’t speak English, and those captions were only in English,” he told TechCrunch’s Josh Constine on Wednesday. “A system where we talk about the topic and the number of people speaking about the topic actually scares better internationally. And we care a lot about scaling.”

The old (left) vs. new (right) Trending news section of Facebook. Editors previously wrote headlines and short summaries of topics. Facebook

On the topic of news on Facebook, Mosseri said the company is working to reduce the number of hoax news stories that appear in Trending and the News Feed, especially after fake stories about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and 9/11 being an inside job were recently promoted by Facebook’s algorithm.

“I think the Trending product is good but has a lot of room to improvement,” he said.

A Facebook spokesperson previously told Business Insider that the company is working on ways to filter out fake news, including “how we detect context, gauge source authority, and generally do a better job of identifying relevant and fair content.”

Mosseri also echoed Mark Zuckerberg’s stance that Facebook is a technology company that gives publishers a platform to distribute stories, not a media company itself.

“We’re not in the business of deciding what issues people should read about,” he said. “We don’t create content. We’re not in that business.”

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