It's been six weeks after Facebook's "trending topics" section was publicly called out for promoting a blatantly false story about Megyn Kelly and very little -- if anything -- has changed. According to a new audit from the Washington Post, that Megyn Kelly incident was far from an isolated case.
In fact, after logging every trending story spotted from four different Facebook accounts during peak workday hours in September, the Post discovered at least five trending stories that "were indisputably fake" and three others that were "profoundly inaccurate." One such blatant example popped up the day after Apple's big iPhone event and claimed that Tim Cook said the iPhone 8 would have "Siri physically coming out of the phone and doing all the household chores. (The site in question was literally called "Faking News.")
What's more: the Post audit found even more times when the trending topics section surfaced straightforward press releases, Medium posts and links to iTunes or other online stores -- in other words: things that aren't news. While the newspaper notes that their results shouldn't be taken as conclusive because the trending section is personalized to each user, it is clear evidence that Facebook's switch from human editors to a completely algorithm-driven system still needs some work.