Facebook Lets AI Take Editorial Decisions To FIght Allegations Of Bias


Facebook has been in the news this week as it tries to subdue the backlash from WhatsApp users for using their data into Facebook’s advertisement targeting information. It was also the center of another controversy a few months back as claims that it deliberately suppressed trending topics of interest to conservative users threatened a serious backlash.

This news was particularly damaging coming on the backdrop of one of the most divisive and charged elections in US history where both the candidates seem to represent extremes of two very different political systems.

The problem originated from the fact that Facebook was using a team of human editors to weed out the mundane trending hashtags of the day from relevant news stories. These editors were also writing the snippets for the stories to make it to the ‘trending’ page. Humans being human, of course, started to overreach their brief and deciding what was right or wrong.

Now, it has made some changes to this process to try and make the process more transparent. It should be noted that Facebook never actually agrees to the charges of bias against it.

The trending news stories will no longer include snippets written from humans but instead, AI will pull blurbs from the news stories themselves. A larger role for AI will also mean that bias from humans will be reduced.

The editors will still be involved in the process of choosing the relevant news stories though that role has been greatly reduced. It once again re-iterates the direction in which software is going where machine learning will take a lot more ‘editorial’ decisions rather than humans who almost always have some inherent biases.

Facebook is trying to position itself as the platform on which the world ‘shares’ everything and that involves some topics that a moderate majority would not be comfortable with. It would set a dangerous precedent if Facebook were to start censoring this content and deciding what is fit or unfit for consumption.

There are certain community driven guidelines that the content has to stay within but as a whole freedom to express any point of view must be maintained.

Facebook has maintained that it has no interest in trying to police the opinions of its users and will continue to propagate a free and open environment on its platform. It si also apparent now that AI will have a huge role in making that happen.

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