Facebook launches human-curated event recommendations

Steven Loeb · June 28, 2016 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/4641

After the Trending Topics scandal, no political or religious events will be on the list

There's a common theme that I've been noticing about Facebook's products: while the company talks a lot about things like artificial intelligence, it really values the human element. That was the case with the Siri-like service, called M, that it released last year. That was the case with its Trending Topics, which, as we all know, came back to bite it.

Now the company has revealed it will be doing the same thing with events, with the launch of what it is calling "featured events," or city-specific recommendations for things happening around town. Featured events will be chosen by a team, who will recommend things like local art, festivals, fitness, food and drink, learning, community, music and sporting events. 

"Featured events are lists created by a team at Facebook that show fun local things happening in specific cities. Events on these lists are drawn from art, entertainment, family, festival, fitness, food and drink, learning, community, music and sports events, and we try to find events that appeal to a wide audience," the company wrote. 

"Featured event lists are one of the ways people discover events on Facebook."

Having a team of people pick out the best things to do around town is an antidote to the automated version that users have been used to for years, which instead used an algorithm to figure out what each specific user would likely be interested in, based on what they've already done, who else is going or if it involves a page they already like.  

So far, the feature is only going to available in ten U.S. cities: Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. The company does not say whether or not it has plans to expand it.

For Facebook, selecting a team to give out recommendations had to be a bit of a tough decision, considering that it's still dealing with the scandal that erupted last month, when it was accused, by a former contractor, of routinely preventing stories from conservative news outlets from appearing in its "Trending Topics" sidebar due to political bias. 

The company has tried to smooth things over, but COO Sheryl Sandberg recently said that the company will not be mandating that all of its employees to take training recognize their own political biases.

Perhaps aware of the potentially scrutiny that using a potentially biased human team might lead to, Facebook is already nipping it in the bud.

"Factors like whether or not the event host has bought ads for the event on Facebook are not considered by the team. Additionally, the team at Facebook is focused on featuring a variety of entertaining events, and will not include events primarily focused on politics or worship," the company wrote.

(Image source: marthagiffen.com)

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