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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!”

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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.

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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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