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Facebook has killed the hated Trending Topics bar

02 June, 2018, 00:26 | Author: Abraham Jackson
  • Facebook killing controversial ‘Trending’ feature, breaking news alerts and more coming

Troubles with the trending section began to emerge in 2016, when the company was accused of bias against conservatives, based on the words of an anonymous former contractor who said Facebook downplayed conservative issues in that feature and promoted liberal causes.

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

The algorithm-driven sidebar ultimately didn't serve its objective.

However, it was only available in five countries and accounted for less than 1.5% of clicks to news publishers on average.

In a blog post announcing Trending section's removal, Facebook's Alex Hardiman didn't wade into political bias territory, but instead noted that the way people consume news on Facebook has changed. When asked by Quartz, a spokesperson would not comment on whether the traffic was higher when it was using human moderators.

In the last several years, the world's biggest social media platform has become a dominating force in how news is disseminated - 44 percent of adults in America get at least some of their news from Facebook, according to the Pew Research Center. 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. "Fake news" wasn't yet a popular term, and no foreign country had been accused of trying to influence the USA elections through social media, as Russian Federation later would be. And, because algorithms are not ideal, they repeatedly goofed up, allowing fake news stories to spread across the network by highlighting factually inaccurate links that were going viral as well as other inappropriate content.

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Breaking News Label: A test we're running with 80 publishers across North America, South America, Europe, India and Australia lets publishers put a "breaking news" indicator on their posts in News Feed.

Trending is being pulled from Facebook next week and it will also remove products and third-party partner integrations that rely on the Trends API, the company said.

"So we're exploring new ways to help people stay informed about timely, breaking news that matters to them, while making sure the news they see on Facebook is from trustworthy and quality sources", she said.

"Breaking news has to look different than a recipe", Hardiman said.

Facebook says the trending section wasn't a popular feature to begin with.

Hardiman said ending the trending section feels like letting a child go. "From research we found that over time people found the product to be less and less useful".

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