Three days after Facebook said it would remove the human editors who curate the Trending topics section and replace them with a purely algorithmic system, the company trended a fake news story about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly.
The mistake seems like an easily avoidable one — the story on Kelly, which claimed that she had been booted from the conservative-leaning Fox News for being a secret Hillary Clinton supporter, had the unmistakable scent of bullshit.
But without a human to catch the mistake, the story shot to the top of Facebook s Trending list, beating out Beyonce s VMA performance and Anthony Weiner s sexting scandal, before it was removed around 9:30 ET this morning.
By trending the fake story, Facebook leant credibility to the hoax.
TechCrunch understands from a source familiar with the situation that Facebook s algorithm for Trending relies on the number of articles and posts about the topic — a relatively easy system to spoof with a fake, viral headline.
The Kelly story was initially promoted to Tending because it met the conditions for acceptance at the time, according to Facebook s review guidelines.