Facebook is shutting down trending topics feature

02 June, 2018, 03:29 | Author: Lynette Payne
  • Facebook says it is shutting down its ill-fated 'trending' news section

"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".

Facebook said it is also testing a new section called "Today In", which displays local breaking news, and a dedicated section of Facebook Watch in the US for live videos and other items exclusive to the platform.

Even as Facebook addressed the issues around fake news, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stuck to his belief that Facebook itself is not a "media company"- something he's been saying for years.

Trending Topics was one of those Facebook features that seemed sensible on paper, but in practice turned out to be a major headache for the company.

Detailed in a press release, Facebook says that its trending feature was only available in select countries and didn't prove to be popular.

Alex Hardiman, Facebook's head of news products, announced in a post that the Trending section introduced to the site's front page in 2014 will be removed next week. In 2016, Gizmodo reported that Facebook's contract workers often chose not to link to news with a conservative slant.

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But the curation of trending news in the absence of human oversight led to more blowback and embarrassment. The company continued to modify the section, but Facebook said that over time it became less useful to users. Hardiman said Facebook is testing the new label with 80 publishers across North America, South America, Europe, India and Australia.

"I consider us to be a technology company because the primary thing that we do is have engineers who write code and build product and services for other people", he told Congress.

According to Hardiman, Facebook will soon have a dedicated section on Facebook Watch in the US where people can view live coverage, daily news briefings and weekly features that will be exclusive to Watch.

Another feature, called "Today In", shows people breaking news in their area from local publishers, officials and organizations. Facebook Watch will soon have a dedicated section for live news coverage.

The changes arrive at a time when Facebook has been held accountable for allowing the spread of fake news across its network, and it has responded with a host of fake news-fighting features like fact checking, adding publisher context, the addition of related articles, shrinking fake news in the News Feed, and other initiatives.

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