Published: Sat, June 02, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Preston Stone

Facebook to Drop Trending-Topics Feature

Facebook to Drop Trending-Topics Feature

Facebook fired the team, and since then, algorithms have been largely responsible for governing what goes into the Trending sidebar, which is prominently displayed at the top of the desktop site.

In place of the Trending section, Facebook will focus on delivering high quality, reliable news via mobile and video, areas where it's seen users gravitate to get their news fix.

Conservatives have often charged Facebook with being biased against them, grilling Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg on the issue in an April hearing.

Facebook's decision to kill the Trending section comes after a long, dubious saga in which the social network was widely criticized for the effectiveness and legitimacy of the feed.

In an interview ahead of Friday's announcement, Facebook's head of news products, Alex Hardiman, said the company is still committed to breaking and real-time news.

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We introduced Trending in 2014 as a way to help people discover news topics that were popular across the Facebook community.

To that end, Facebook is testing several new features, including a breaking news label for news outlets, breaking news notifications, a Today In section and more news coverage in Facebook Watch. But over time, the section failed to gain much traction among users, the company said Friday.

Facebook is now testing new features, including a "breaking news" label that publishers can add to stories to distinguish them from other chatter. But at that time fake news was not a popular term and no foreign country had been accused of trying to influence the United States elections through social media, as Russian Federation would be. The changes and features Facebook is putting out, he said, are being treated as "bug fixes" - addressing single problems the way engineers do.

"There are other ways for us to better invest our resources", Hardiman told the AP. Initially, Facebook relied on human editors to curate the news topics that appeared.

Another feature, called "Today In", shows people breaking news in their area from local publishers, officials and organizations. A perception that Facebook had editorial bias made leadership skittish about even creating the appearance it was suppressing news, which gave fake stories a clearer path to spread.

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