Facebook recently announced that it is shutting down its ‘trending news’ section.
Here’s why Facebook will remove its trending section
In a blog post, Alex Hardiman, head of news products at Facebook, said the trending topics feature was available in only five countries and had accounted for less than 1.5% of clicks through to news publishers. Hardiman said that her team discovered that people found the product to be “less and less” useful over time. The trending news section, which was released in 2014, came with a promise to help users discover the best content from all across the social media platform.
When it rolled out this feature in 2014, Facebook wanted to steal the limelight from Twitter, which had a similar feature in its platform.
But according to Facebook, the tool was not popular and is now outdated. In addition, the ill-fated tool also proved to be problematic in ways that foreshadowed later problems it had with political balance, hate speech and fake news.
An anonymous former Facebook contractor alleged in 2016 that the colleagues at Facebook curbed news about ‘popular conservative topics’ from the trending topics section. Later, Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, met with conservative leaders and commentators to diminish the impact of those allegations.
Facebook exploring new features to provide genuine news
According to Hardiman, the tech company is slowly taking steps to move the editorial decisions away from the social network and towards the news organizations. She said that testing is underway for a “breaking news” label with over 80 news publishers globally.
Facebook will allow outlets to add a red label to differentiate their posts from other breaking news. In addition to this, notifications are being tested as well.
The social media giant is exploring another news product codenamed “Today In” which gives importance to local news sources. Today In would allow people to receive notices from organizations and officials and news from publishers in their communities.
The feature is currently being tested in only six cities in the U.S., but according to reports by the news site Recode, it wants to bring Today In to more cities in the future and to enable users to follow cities where they do not currently live.
Local publishers, who will be allowed to post stories for Today In, will have to be approved by Facebook’s News Partnerships team.