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The problem with Facebook’s trending topics and 9/11

False stories have been a problem after Facebook decided to get rid of human editors and instead relies on computer algorithms to select topics.


Nidia Cavazos


A few weeks ago, Facebook decided to use computer algorithms instead of human editors to select its “trending topics.”

The new trending topics are selected based on articles users are talking about the most at any given moment.

Though a team of editors employed by Facebook are ensuring quality topics stay while eliminating fake ones, false stories have managed to rise regardless.

As the Daily Dot reported on Friday, Facebook featured a 9/11 conspiracy theory on its trending topics early that morning. The social media site linked to a Daily Star article claiming bombs were the source of the towers’ collapse, not planes.

In lieu of the 15th anniversary of 9/11, this Daily Star article focuses on offering an alternative to the happenings. No matter how many times this theory has been debunked, it manages to make its way to the top.

The Daily Dot debunks this theory despite accounts of it trending on Facebook’s list.


The Twin Towers collapsed due to a “controlled demolition.”

The fires produced by the jet collision/jet fuel were not enough to melt the entire steel structure causing it to collapse. Skyscrapers are protected with flame-proof materials. Fires and deaths are possibilities, but the collapse of the tower is not. The initial damage in the lower floors proves that bombs were utilized to help bring the towers down. It just wasn’t the plane.

After all, the chief structural engineer of the World Trade Center said the towers were capable of withstanding the force of a jet collision.


Experts agree that the jet collision was the catalyst to the fire. What further fueled the fire was the countless combustible material found inside the towers. The massive fire didn’t have to melt the entire steel structure for it to collapse.

Farid Alfawak-hiri, engineer of the American Institute of Steel Construction spoke to Popular Mechanics and said “steel loses about 50 percent of its strength at 1100°F”. Jet Fuel burns at 800- 1500 °F. The fire only had to substantially damage the steel.

For bombs to bring the towers down, the massive damage would have had to start at the bottom. It did not start at the bottom. There is an explanation as to why the lower levels were damaged even before the collapse.

According to the investigation led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, plane debris sliced through utility shafts at the North Tower’s core. This “created a conduit for burning jet fuel… and fiery destruction throughout the building.”

As investigations sprung up after the collapse in 2001, so have countless theories. Some have proven true while others false. What remains true is this: the idea that the two towers were completely destructible will never be satisfying and people will continue to look for answers.

Lesson: Facebook’s trending topics may not always be accurate.

The Daily Dot