Facebook returns trending picks to mechanical feed only to see total garbage float to top

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/08/29/facebook-returns-trending-pick.html

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Who knew that the internet is full of garbage?


Facebook is one of the best things to use an Adblocker for. I’ve never seen trending anything and I’m much better off for it.


I need to see if my ad blocker is working correctly. It still puts in some ads in the feed, though I think most are due to people liking them.

I have to say even though I don’t drink coffee, the ads for Caffeinated as Fuck coffee are funny.


Reminds me of a program called “Racter”. It was an Eliza-like program that was supposed to be fairly insane. If you fed it insanity back, it would generate total nonsense. Facebook is finding out that we live in a post-sanity world.


The decision to fire the humans who wrote descriptions of the topics was stupid. Now I just see a topic title, which is often a celebrity’s name, and I’m left to wonder if they died or just released a new movie, because I’m not inclined to click on a link without an idea of what I’ll find there. I’m just going to assume all the people mentioned in trending are dead.

Then I figured out that you can mouse over to see a description. Still not doing that. And they also mention how many people are following the trend, like that’s important at all to me. “Other people are doing it!”


Those you’ll never get around. They’re coming from the same server and same path as your feed itself in order to get around adblockers. It’s a clever mix of things your friends like and stuff they’re trying to put in front of you, but rarely ever worth actually clicking on.

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Not just “other” people, but the coolest other people. And don’t you want to be cool too?

I find the number of people following the trend slightly useful. If 500K people are following a story about some C-list media personality, it’s likely that something interesting happened.

Of course Facebook could just give me a short summary like they used to and let me figure it out, but that would apparently require a staff of 26 people.

In the words of William Burroughs: “The answer is sooooo simple.”

Replace human readers with algorithmic readers.

Update - “Ah Pook is here” (source of Burroughs quote):

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So it turns out when Facebook stops “suppressing conservative news stories”, what pops up is easily debunked conspiracy garbage? I’m shocked, SHOCKED, I tell you.


Yeah it’s no longer interesting to me. I don’t care enough to even hover over the name. The blurb lured me in. The name does not at all. I’m a lazy ass mofo.

The same exact poorly-sourced/written linkbait stories popped up at the top of my Google Now “articles you may like” section. So I guess Google’s technology isn’t much more advanced.

Nothing better than starting ones’ day reading sophomoric Paulbots.

So…WTF was wrong with just being a face-based phonebook with occasional updates from family, friends, and vaguely remembered acquaintances from high school. There isn’t a niche for that? I mean I know, capitalism, blah, blah, blah

I’m…so surprised…that facebook would be hubristic enough to ignore the lessons of ~20 years of search engines:

People will game the system as hard as they can.

Algorithmically making sense of giant piles of mixed data is a brutal job under the best of circumstances; but when your real estate is of considerable value you don’t enjoy the best of circumstances. You get all of the usual challenges and a set of clever and persistent adversaries deliberately monkeying with your results.

Normally, I’d be in favor of solving this problem by purging the SEO filth with fire and sword; but in this case I think that they and Facebook deserve each other.

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Garbage found floating on top of other garbage, news at 11.

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