Facebook depends on its editorial team to curate news for its trending module, according to leaked internal documents.
The Guardian reported that the social media giant's editors are expected to make decisions about what is displayed in the trending news feed. In a subsequent statement, Facebook clarified that topics are "surfaced by algorithm" and then reviewed by its editorial team.
Recently the review process for Facebook's trending topics — that little list of newsy links that everybody sees on the upper right side of their feeds — came under fire for allegedly suppressing conservative news stories. According to Facebook's statement and documents obtained by The Guardian, a story has to have already been covered by at least five major media outlets, including CNBC's sister outlet NBC News, in order to be considered "a national story."
How Facebook chooses the topics for the popular trending section matters because so many people trust it as a primary news source.
About 63 percent of Facebook users said that they use the platform as a source of news for "events and issues outside the realm of friends and family," according to a Pew Research study performed in partnership with the James L. Knight Foundation last summer. A subsequent study found that Facebook drove 82 percent to 84 percent of social traffic to longer and shorter stories, respectively.