Facebook is finally shuttering its Trending topics section

02 June, 2018, 03:27 | Author: Darren Santiago
  • Facebook says it is shutting down its ill-fated 'trending' news section

Trending was introduced in 2014 but was intensely controversial from the beginning.

Facebook is retiring Trending-the box that displayed all the latest news-because, it says, the feature had outlived its usefulness. It fit nicely into CEO Mark Zuckerberg's pledge just a year earlier to make Facebook its users' "personal newspaper".

Nonetheless, the dustup prompted inquiries from partisan legislators aghast at the thought of political bias. Previously, moderators for Facebook made the decisions. It amassed notoriety in 2016 after a Gizmodo report that detailed allegations of the trending team suppressing conservative news.

The operational and algorithmic surgery evidently did not have the desired effect.

The trending section had been a headache for the company.

But Alex Hardiman, the company's head of news products, said in a blog post that users are shifting to consuming news on their phones and through video. From research we found that over time people found the product to be less and less useful.

The company didn't provide a time frame for when Facebook's news-focused video hub would go live, but said that "soon" 10 to 12 USA publishers will be launching news shows in Watch, focused on live coverage of breaking events, daily shows and weekly shows. She added that the company is exploring new ways to help people stay informed "while making sure the news they see on Facebook is from trustworthy and quality sources". These efforts will be funded by Facebook itself, the company said.

Facebook and other social media platforms have been criticized for their role in allowing disinformation to spread during the 2016 United States election, in many cases with the help of automated "bots" or disguised Russian-based accounts. Hardiman said Facebook is testing the new label with 80 publishers across North America, South America, Europe, India and Australia. On Friday, one of the site's biggest changes was announced.

The company is also funding news videos, created exclusively for Facebook by publishers it would not yet name. In its announcement on Friday (June 1), Facebook said the section was driving only marginal traffic to news publishers.

A third feature will soon launch.

Hardiman provided some examples of what the site may replace the section with in the near future.

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