A former writer for Facebook’s trending section denounced the social media platform on Monday saying the company treated the team like “garbage.”
The former employee, Mythili Sampathkumar, said the reason for Facebook’s fake news problem was firing the team earlier this year.
“As a former Facebook Trending News writer and current actual-human, Facebook has always had an answer to the fake news problem: our team,” Sampathkumar said on Twitter. “They treated us like garbage because we were all contractors, had zero leadership, and thought we were just pre-cursors for an algorithm.”
Sampathkumar continued saying, “After about 18 months, those of us that didn't quit (I did earlier in the year) they fired the entire team w/no grace, no notice, no care.”
Facebook’s problem with fake news gained momentum after the election, as people criticized the platform for not doing enough to curb fake stories that were shared on the site. Those fake stories, some say, helped Donald Trump win the election.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the platform saying the belief of fake news influencing voters is a “ pretty crazy ” one. He also said that there was a very small amount of fake news on the social media site.
However, in the last few months of the presidential campaign, the top-performing fake election news stories on Facebook produced more engagement than top stories from major news outlets like the New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, NBC News, and others, BuzzFeed reported last week.
In May, Gizmodo reported the trending section was manipulated by editors at Facebook and not by an algorithm like Facebook had previously said.
Sampathkumar attacked Gizmodo in her tweets.
“Instead of fact checking and letting the news team full of real reporters do our job, they cowed to right-wing pressure and advertisers,” said Sampathkumar. “They believed the hack job, false Gizmodo stories instead of their own reporters and their own algorithm which tracked everything we did. Result was rampant proliferation of fake news. It could have easily been avoided had they treated their human team of writers...as humans.”
Meanwhile, Zuckerberg revealed a strategy to curb fake news on the site last Friday.
“Our goal is to connect people with the stories they find most meaningful, and we know people want accurate information,” said Zuckerberg in a post. “We've been working on this problem for a long time and we take this responsibility seriously. We've made significant progress, but there is more work to be done.”
But Sampathkumar was uncertain of Facebook’s plan.
“So let’s not act like solution to FB’s news problem is better algorithm,” said Sampathkumar. “Some aspects of news judgement just can’t be done by bro-grammers.”