Facebook is eliminating its problematic Trending News section.
Amid criticism and claims of facilitating “fake news,” Facebook is eliminating its Trending News section. Without making direct reference to that specific topic though, Alex Hardiman, head of Facebook’s news products released a statement explaining that the company was doing away with the feature because of a lack of relevancy with users.
“We’re removing Trending soon to make way for future news experiences on Facebook,” says Hardiman. “We introduced Trending in 2014 as a way to help people discover news topics that were popular across the Facebook community. However, it was only available in five countries and accounted for less than 1.5% of clicks to news publishers on average. From research we found that over time people found the product to be less and less useful.”
The company plans to eliminate Trending as early as next week and also says it will be getting rid of products and third-party integrations that rely on the Trends API. The Trending section proved to a problematic sore for the tech giant in its four years of existence as it promoted countless numbers of fabricated stories, including Russian articles that attempted to sway the 2016 U.S. presidential election, reaching over 120 million users.
“We’ve seen that the way people consume news on Facebook is changing to be primarily on mobile and increasingly through news video,” adds Hardiman. “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.”
While its is getting rid of Trending, Hardiman says Facebook will be testing out fresh solutions such as a “Breaking News” label that publishers can use on their post in News Feed in addition to breaking news notifications. They’ll also test out a “Today In” feature that allows users to connect with local news in their cities and locations. Finally, Hardiman says that the social platform will introduce exclusive news briefings and live coverage through the Watch feature. That option will only be available in the United States upon rollout.