Facebook Got Caught Promoting Hoax Article With 'Proof' 9/11 Was A Conspiracy
Two weeks ago, Facebook fired the humans who were curating the "Trending" news section on your feed.
Since then, automated algorithms have been running the Trending news section, and so far, it hasn't exactly been successful.
On Friday, two days before the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the Facebook Trending news section featured a story arguing the attacks were a hoax.
The article from a British tabloid included a conspiracy theory passed around by 9/11 "truthers." It claims 9/11 was an inside job and the Twin Towers were actually demolished by bombs.
In case you don't remember, the Twin Towers were in fact destroyed by terrorists using hijacked airplanes.
Facebook told Vocativ,
We're aware a hoax article showed up there and as a temporary step to resolving this we've removed the topic.
The "September 11th Anniversary" Trending topic was completely taken off the Facebook feed.
Reports showed the humans running the Trending section were prone to bias, generally keeping more conservative stories out of the featured section. That's why Facebook is now using algorithms.
But that algorithmic objectivity seems to be a new problem for Facebook to deal with. Bots see data as data. They don't necessarily see it as conspiracy theories or lies.
Because of this, only two weeks into the human-free experiment, Facebook Trending is already experiencing major problems.
Within the first few days of the Trending bot being used instead of humans, the section featured a false story about Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly.
The story came from right-wing website End The Fed and said Kelly was fired by Fox for secretly being liberal. That never happened.
Facebook's vice president of global operations, Justin Osofsky, said in a statement to CBS News at the time,
We're working to make our detection of hoax and satirical stories quicker and more accurate.
Might be time to work a little faster on that.