Facebook Fires Entire Trending Topics Team

Trending sidebar will be populated by an algorithm, while engineers ensure that topics that appear are newsworthy

Facebook has fired its entire Trending Topics team, and will replace them with computers.

According to Quartz, the entire editorial team of 15-18 people contracted through a third party were let go on Friday and given an hour to vacate the premises. The Trending sidebar will now be populated by an algorithm that determines what Facebook users are talking about.

In an announcement about the changes to Trending, the company emphasized that the move removes the need for human staffers to write small blurbs describing the topic displayed on the site.

The news follows reports back in May that the Trending section was subject to liberal partisanship, a claim CEO Mark Zuckerberg denied following an internal review that found “no political bias.” Shortly thereafter, the company announced a new set of rules and guidelines for the Trending team.

“There are still people involved in this process to ensure that the topics that appear in Trending remain high-quality — for example, confirming that a topic is tied to a current news event in the real world,” the company said. “The topic #lunch is talked about during lunchtime every day around the world, but will not be a trending topic.”

“Making these changes to the product allows our team to make fewer individual decisions about topics,” said Facebook in Friday’s announcement. “Facebook is a platform for all ideas, and we’re committed to maintaining Trending as a way for people to access a breadth of ideas and commentary about a variety of topics”.

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