The quality of Facebook’s trending stories has suffered after it replaced human editors with algorithms.
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This story originally appeared on PCMag
A link to a story claiming that planted bombs, not terrorists, were responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, collapse of the World Trade Center briefly appeared in Facebook‘s trending news section on Friday before the social network removed it.
A Facebook spokesperson told the Washington Post that it was aware of the hoax story, with the headline “September 11: The Footage that ‘proves bombs were planted in Twin Towers.'”
“We’re aware a hoax article showed up there,” the spokesperson said in a statement, “and as a temporary step to resolving this we’ve removed the topic.”
When Facebook added the September 11 topic back to the trending section, the lead article switched to a piece about a photograph showing beams of light bouncing off One World Trade Center, according to the Post.
The September 11 hoax is the second widely-circulated fake story to surface following Facebook’s decision last month to eliminate the editors who curated its trending news section, instead relying on algorithms to help users discover worldwide breaking news. One of the advantages of relying on algorithms over human editors, the company says, is that it can enable the trending topics feature for users worldwide instead of limiting it to just countries like the U.S.
But it didn’t take long after the editors’ departure for fake stories to start appearing. On Aug. 29, 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.