Large global businesses can often develop a reputation for being somewhat ruthless, Facebook among them.
Valuing your staff, appreciating the value of experience and the human touch can have profound benefits for your business. This is often a sentiment not discussed enough in a world where automation is everywhere.
Digital businesses like Facebook want everything to be faster, better and more automatic. This is why they look to automating processes with algorithms. It often makes sense to have an algorithm do the job of several humans. It is faster, potentially more cost effective in the long run, but not always successful.
Humans can understand nuance, emotion and appropriateness, something algorithms just cannot do with much accuracy yet.
Recently Facebook learnt the hard way that their algorithms are not yet smarter than their staff after they abruptly sacked their trending team.
Similar to Twitter, Facebook has a trending feature to let us know what topics are currently hot news on the social network. It was revealed several months ago that this system operates via a team of humans not an algorithm as you might expect with this kind of system.
On Friday 26th August 2016 Facebook announced that it had disbanded its trending team in favour of a fully automated module.
Some reports have arisen that the human team was eliminated in a highly unceremonious manner by being sacked without warning, with security guards present and given four weeks’ severance pay.
The result of this decision? Not positive apparently. Within days of being launched the automated trending module had highlighted to users a story with pornographic content, a highly controversial matter regarding an obscene remark by a comedian on rightwing pundit Ann Coulter and a false story about Fox News host Megyn Kelly.
It was hoped the automated module would allow the trending section of Facebook to expand by covering more topics on a global scale but the reality was that the human staff knew the difference between trusted news sites and fictitious stories.
It will be interesting to see if, after these initial missteps, the automated trending process can prove itself. It is a story that will resonate with many because the value of the human mind should never be overlooked. It is often this personal touch that makes the biggest difference in delivering a great service to customers.