Facebook is removing the the trending news feature next week

02 June, 2018, 00:26 | Author: Shannon Newton
  • Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook is testing a feature focused on highlighting breaking news

Facebook Inc. said it is scrapping its trending-topics feature, two years after the list of news stories became a lightning rod for conservatives' discontent over what they claimed was the company's liberal bias-an accusation that still dogs Facebook.

Facebook introduced a feature called Trending in 2014, and you can probably guess what it did even if you never touch Facebook.

While Facebook got outsized attention for the problems the trending section had - perhaps because it seemed popular with journalists and editors - neither its existence nor its removal makes much of a difference when it comes with Facebook's broader problems with news. There will also be a dedicated news section in Facebook Watch.

The algorithm-driven sidebar ultimately didn't serve its goal. Facebook says it only rolled Trends out in five countries, and it only accounted for about 1.5% of clicks for news sites.

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Facebook's head of news products, Alex Hardiman, said the company is still committed to real-time news. When asked by Quartz, a spokesperson would not comment on whether the traffic was higher when it was using human moderators.

Facebook announced on Friday that it planned to remove Trending, a module on the right-hand side of Facebook's desktop site that shows news stories people are discussing and sharing. During CEO Mark Zuckerberg's recent hearings before the US Congress and European Union parliament, purported prejudice against conservative-leaning posts was repeatedly brought up by lawmakers.

The company says it's killing that feature next week in order to focus on other news features.

"There are other ways for us to better invest our resources", Hardiman told the AP.

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The "breaking news" tag, which is being tested by 80 publishers, has caused a 4 percent increase in people clicking through links and an 11 percnent lift in people sharing those stories.

How the platform approached its role as a news disseminator has sparked heavy criticism across a number of different groups.

We'll see if doing away with the Trending section and delivering more meaningful news does anything to improve user trust in Facebook.

Hardiman said ending the trending section feels like letting a child go. "We will remove Trending from Facebook next week and we will also remove products and third-party partner integrations that rely on the Trends API".

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