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Facebook replaces staff with algorithm and it all goes wrong

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Up until a few days ago, Facebook employed a team of human editors to curate its Trending news module on the website. Now, an algorithm does the job.

Unfortunately for Facebook, it’s not going well. In the few days since the company decided to replace the work of human beings with an algorithm, several fake and inappropriate stories have made it to the top of the website’s Trending news feature.

Without human interference, the algorithm allowed a fake story about Fox News host Megyn Kelly, a piece calling a well-know political commentator a sexist slur, and links to an article about a video of a sexual nature to appear in the Trending list.

Before they were replaced by a computer, the editors of the Trending team would have spotted and prevented from featuring on the website.

With a reputation of being highly innovative, it might come as no surprise that Facebook decided it was ready to replace humans with computers. In a statement on Friday, before it all started to go wrong, the company said that by making the product more automated, there would no longer be a need for humans to interfere.

It further explained its decision by saying it would allow the Trending module to operate at a much greater scale. “Our goals is to enable Trending for as many people as possible, which would be hard to do if we relied solely on summarizing topics by hand”, the statement reads.

Facebook’s move seems to be a case of too much, too soon. Although it’s not the first or only company looking into replacing employees with computers, the question remains whether machines will ever truly be able to do the job the way humans can. In the case of the Trending team, clearly the answer is no.

The workplace isn’t the only place where Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is experimenting with algorithms. At his home a smart system based on voice and facial recognition controls gates, lights, and temperature. Unfortunately for anyone else present in the house, the system can so far only recognise Zuckerberg himself.

ALSO READ: Jobs with the highest risk of getting automated in ASEAN

Image / Facebook

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