Facebook killing controversial ‘Trending’ feature, breaking news alerts and more coming

02 June, 2018, 03:25 | Author: Julian Harrison

"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".

Facebook's "trending" topics section had become a focal point of such criticisms. It fit nicely into CEO Mark Zuckerberg's pledge just a year earlier to make Facebook its users' "personal newspaper".

And so further commitments to change were made, "to restore any loss of trust in the Trending Topics feature", from the bias that Facebook couldn't find.

The operational and algorithmic surgery evidently did not have the desired effect.

Problems with the trending section emerged in 2016, when the company was accused of bias against conservatives, based on comments by an anonymous former contractor.

"From research we found that over time people found the product to be less and less useful", Facebook's head of news products, Alex Hardiman, said in a blog post on Friday.




The social network is also testing a section called "Today In" that aims to connect users to the latest breaking news from local publishers in their respective cities.

"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. These efforts will be funded by Facebook itself, the company said.

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.

One reason the feature is so little used could be that it's not immediately visible on Facebook's app or mobile version, where most people use the site. It also proved problematic in ways that hinted at Facebook's later problems with fake news, political balance and the limitations of AI in managing the human world.

Another feature, called Today In shows people breaking news in their area from local publishers, officials and organisations. It was available only in five countries and accounted for less than 1.5 percent of clicks to the websites of news publishers, according to the company.

Hardiman provided some examples of what the site may replace the section with in the near future.

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