Facebook is shutting down trending topics feature

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

Facebook is removing the the trending news feature next week

Facebook's controversial Trending section has fallen out of fashion and will be removed next week, along with products and third-party partner integrations that rely on the Trends API.

A company official told The Associated Press that the feature is outdated and wasn't popular. Facebook also notes that it was never made globally available, being only available in five countries and accounting for less than 1.5% of clicks to publishers.

Removing the section comes as Facebook continues to grapple with questions of liberal bias, likely a remnant of the 2016 Trending controversy.

Facebook drew fire after actors linked to Russian Federation ran thousands of ads on the platform in an effort to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

Facebook and other social media platforms have been criticized for their role in allowing disinformation to spread during the 2016 U.S. election, in many cases with the help of automated "bots" or disguised Russian-based accounts.

According to the Pew Research Centre, 44% of United States adults get some or all of their news through Facebook.

Facebook also is testing a "breaking news" label with 80 publishers across North America, South America, Europe, India and Australia along with breaking-news notifications.

The Trending feature introduced four years ago listed stories buzzing on Facebook at any given time.

Facebook is deleting its problematic Trending Topics section as the social network rethinks how to showcase news.

Facebook appears to have concluded that trying to fix the headaches caused by the trending section was not worth the meagre benefits the company, users and news publishers saw in it. The company continued to modify the section, but Facebook said that over time it became less useful to users. "And we're investing in ways to better draw attention to breaking news when it matters most". But instead of having Facebook's moderators, human or otherwise, make editorial decisions, there's been a subtle shift to let news organizations do so. The changes and features Facebook is putting out, he said, are being treated as "bug fixes" - addressing single problems the way engineers do.

The company is also funding news videos, created exclusively for Facebook by publishers it would not yet name.

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

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