Facebook to pull plug on 'Trending' topics feature

02 June, 2018, 00:30 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook is testing a feature focused on highlighting breaking news

Trending was only available in a handful of countries, and accounted for a paltry fraction of clicks through to news publishers, according to Hardiman.

Facebook, ever eager avoid the liability that comes with being a publisher, said there was no bias.but nonetheless allowed that it "could not fully exclude the possibility of isolated improper actions or unintentional bias in the implementation of our guidelines or policies".

Trending Topics started in 2014 and caused plenty of headaches for Facebook.

Hardiman said Facebook is testing the new label with 80 publishers across North America, South America, Europe, India and Australia. "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".

Over 80 news publishers are now testing the "breaking news" label, which allows them to opt to flag their Instant Articles, mobile and web links, and Facebook Live video as breaking news, the company tells us.

It's unusual for a site that's used for search, like Facebook, to not manage a trending section.

The trending section had been a large target of criticism for the company. First came a report that its human editors were biased against conservatives. 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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The company Friday said the feature, which it intends to remove next week, became less useful over time, and that removing it would "make way for future news experiences" on the platform.

He said the Trending feature would be removed "soon".

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

The relationship between journalism and Facebook has always been fraught.

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

Facebook says the trending section was never popular. The company also will add a section called Facebook Watch where users can view live news coverage along with other content. 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.


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