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Facebook Just Released Its Current Trending News Guidelines

Facebook says its trending news stories are "surfaced by algorithms."
May 12, 2016, 8:44pm
Image: David Ramos/Getty Images

A few hours after The Guardian obtained Facebook's internal guidelines for selecting "trending" news stories, Facebook has decided to publicly release an updated version of the document.

Facebook has come under a lot of fire this week over its trending news widget after former employees told Gizmodo that journalists employed at Facebook regularly censor or suppress conservative news. Nothing in the guidelines suggests that Facebook has a specific bias against certain types of news, though it does say it doesn't want "clickbait."

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"At its core, Trending Topics is designed to help people discover major events and meaningful conversations," Facebook wrote in a blog post. "Topics that are eligible to appear in the product are surfaced by our algorithms, not people. This product also has a team of people who play an important role in making sure that what appears in Trending Topics is high-quality and useful."

Once those topics are "surfaced," however, Facebook's journalists help make the decision about what is actually trending. Facebook says its algorithm pulls from roughly 1,000 news websites, which its human editors then use to help populate the top stories. It has a separate list of "Media 1K" domains that the company considers "trustworthy," which doesn't always align with the RSS feed.

Facebook officials directed us to its official statement when I asked the company for comment.

One notable change between The Guardian's documents and the one Facebook just posted: Yahoo News is no longer considered among the most trustworthy news sites; Buzzfeed News has replaced it.

There is some information redacted in the guidelines, although it may just be names and internal URLs.

Facebook's Full Trending Review Guidelines for 2016