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Facebook ditches humans in favor of algorithms for trending news

Gone are the short hand-written descriptions of Trending topics, to be replaced by even shorter algorithm-generated blurbs about popular topics circulating on the platform, according to a blog post.

"Our goal is to enable Trending for as many people as possible, which would be hard to do if we relied exclusively on summarizing topics by hand", Facebook wrote in a blog post announcing the changes.

Facebook said in an e-mailed statement that the composition of its Trending team would focus more on technical expertise since it no longer needed editors to write descriptions.

"Our investigation has revealed no evidence of systematic political bias in the selection or prominence of stories included in the Trending Topics feature", Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch said in a letter responding to a query from Republican US Senator John Thune, who chairs the commerce committee.

Users will now see a list of Trending topics, and hovering over them or clicking on them will bring users to content on those topics.

N. Korea says UN condemnation of missile tests 'provocation'
Analysts say the flight showed North Korea has made progress in its push to be able to strike US forces throughout the region. But its development of reliable submarine-launched missiles would add weapons that are harder to detect before liftoff.

Suffolk: 19 more mosquito samples test positive for West Nile
In Dana Point, officials said mosquitoes have been collected in the Quail Run area and around Dana Point City Hall. Adding fish to circulate water in any backyard ponds, and clearing pond edges of debris and vegetation.

France's Sarkozy brands burkinis a "provocation"
Protesters have been demonstrating outside the French embassy in London on Thursday against the heavily criticised burkini ban. . The woman had gone to the beach in Cannes , and said she was given a verbal warning when she refused to remove the headscarf.

And as before, when users hover over an individual topic in the section, they'll see a short description pulled from a main news article or post about it, and if they click on it, they'll see a results pages with articles and posts, ordered based on their popularity. A Gizmodo article claimed the freelance editors responsible for picking the news and writing headlines were favoring liberal topics over conservative ones.

The Trending Topics feature is relatively new to Facebook, having first been launched in 2014. Some pundits were invited to Facebook headquarters to meet with Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, who worked to reassure them that the social media site had no political agenda.

It's important to note that Facebook originally claimed its Trending Topics section was sorted by an algorithm.

Our goal is to enable Trending for as many people as possible, which would be hard to do if we relied exclusively on summarizing topics by hand.

Under the new system, employees in charge of the trending section will make sure that the hot topics reflect what people are talking about while avoiding subjects that are mundane. Topics will furthermore remain personalized based on a number of user preferences and interactions.

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