The social network, which has been in the news for its handling of the 2016 shooting at a Washington, DC, movie theater, is now known for having a less welcoming and more aggressive culture towards women.
But the news that Facebook’s Trending Topics section was flooded with abusive comments is one sign that a change is coming.
In an essay for Mashable, Facebook writer and blogger Jennifer Pohl noted that, after the shooting, the Trending topics section was so cluttered that she could not find the “relevant” content she wanted to read.
“I was overwhelmed,” Pohl wrote.
“Like many of you, I was unable to browse through the entire section.
I couldn’t even tell which topics were trending and which weren’t.
That’s when I realized I should’ve searched the whole page.”
Pohl found a list of “top 10 topics,” which she wrote about in an essay on Medium.
“That was the point of this experiment: I wanted to see if my experience of the Trended Topics section would have the same impact as my experience browsing the entire page.”
Trending topic searches were the first test of the platform’s commitment to diversity, Pohl said.
She also noticed that women’s experiences in Facebook were significantly less common than men’s, and that women were more likely to share their experiences with the platform, which had previously made it difficult for women to get their stories out.
Pohl also noticed some patterns that were not apparent in the Trenders section of the page.
For example, she found more of the men’s stories that were in the top trending topics topics were positive.
Picking a trending topic for a woman in the US is difficult because of the way it works.
For a woman to post about anything other than pregnancy, an abortion, or a relationship breakup, a woman has to be eligible for a Trending Topic.
“In many ways, this was a sign of the diversity that we all wanted to hear, and it meant that, in my opinion, Trending News was the most relevant content that was being shared,” Pinkowski wrote.
Trending news can be as revealing as anything a woman may have to share with her family and friends.
Women are often hesitant to share this type of news.
“We’re all the same in that way, we’re all just people, and I don’t think we want to make that mistake, that awkward conversation, with someone that’s really worried about us,” Pied said.
In her own experience, Pied saw women’s stories get more of a “briefly-held attention” and then less.
For her, it was a reminder that women often feel “pressured” to be a part of the public conversation on Facebook.
“It’s like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I can’t be a spokesperson for something.
I’m not going to tell everyone what to do or how to do something, because then, they’re going to feel pressured to do it.
I don’ want that,'” Pied wrote.
Pied, PINK, and Pohl all took part in a two-week experiment, which was a culmination of their experiences reporting on gender in the tech industry.
In the past, Pink and PINK founder and cofounder Stephanie Hsu had been trying to figure out how to make Facebook’s platform a place where women and people of color could share their stories, and she wanted more women to be on the front lines.
“There’s a lot of people in the space that are trying to make sure that this isn’t just for white guys.
It’s not just for men.
It is for everyone,” Pindell told Mashable.
“What we are doing is building an inclusive community where people of all genders and identities can be themselves, and they can express themselves freely and freely.”