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Fake News Story Invades Facebook Trending Topics

A fake story popped up in Facebook's trending news section today, three days after the social network announced it would eliminate the editors who curate and write headlines for trending topics.

Multiple Twitter users pointed out that Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly was trending on Facebook based on fake reports that the network was considering firing her for supporting presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton and being a "traitor" to the Republican party.

The link to that story was included in Facebook users' trending topics section for several hours Monday morning, alongside links to coverage of other real events like the evacuation of a terminal at the Los Angeles Airport. Below Kelly's name, Facebook's trending section indicated that some 60,000 people were talking about the story.

The social network announced last week that it will no longer use humans to curate the trending news section, instead relying on algorithms to help its users discover worldwide breaking news. The advantage of relying on algorithms over human editors, Facebook says, is that it can enable the trending topics feature for users worldwide, instead of limiting it to just countries like the U.S.

With the human editors' departure, the trending news section will only display a topic, like "#PhelpsFace" or "NASA," instead of a headline and a short description. Facebook says there will still be humans who check on the section to ensure that topics like "lunch," which people talk about every day, will not be flagged as trending.

A Facebook spokesperson acknowledged the fake Megyn Kelly story but declined to comment on how Facebook reviews trending topics to prevent fake stories from appearing.


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