As kids, we the guys here at ZEFO always liked sci-fi movies; our personal favorites are the Terminator Franchise, especially the first and second one.
We were always intrigued by Skynet, the gestalt intelligence antagonist who dreams of replacing humanity with sentient robotic elements.
The notion, especially back in the cyberpunk 80s, was already well rounded and existent. It was a scary experience, where some people had recurring nightmares about machines taking over.
These nightmares became a reality one day, for Facebook trending articles employees.
Yes, Facebook, one of the most important pioneers of our time, has decided to replace their journalists in the Trending Topics division with an algorithm.
Given, these aren’t robots, but an artificial intelligence algorithm that can replace people, is no laughing matter.
Yes, we enjoy many of these algorithms as they make our lives easier, especially if we know what to look for. PageRank (and RankBrain in general) is a wonderful tool of finding relevant content on the web where irrelevant chaff is tossed aside.
As professional SEO people, it means that unengaging content with links that have nothing to do with the website won’t appear (or at least not rank high) on search results; giving way to relevant, engaging and well produced material.
In Facebook’s case though, it has backfired.
Apparently, the algorithm was pushing bogus headlines and stories without considering the repercussions. Throwing the journalists to the garbage heap was just too soon as they would’ve found this error and wouldn’t allow it to be posted or had taken their time and figured out if it is true or not. Facebook should’ve taken their time with testing this bad boy for a longer duration, pushing even bogus news stories through its’ own internal correspondence to see what its employees had thought of the algorithm (keeping the Trending Topics team in the dark through the process).
It is hardly likely Facebook would be able to save face after this catastrophe, which reminds us of Dick Jones’s fiasco with ED-209 (warning: must be 16 and up to watch the video – graphic violence).
Unfortunately for Kelly, Facebook isn’t liable for any defamatory act against her as the Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 is a get out of jail free card for the latter.
In essence, Section 230 states that one isn’t responsible for words someone else has uttered as long as the words aren’t altered and censored in a way that changes their meaning.
For example: If one has a blog with a comment section and does not monitor the comment section as to allow free speech in accordance with the constitution, even if there are liable sentences at the bottom or hate speech, one is not to be associated with any of that in comparison with a blogger who would alter the comment section as one sees fit, which could implicate one in libel against another.