Industry

Facebook finally kills its awful Trending news section

Facebook finally kills its awful Trending news section

Facebook said that the module accounted for less than 1.5% of the clicks to news publishers and that internal research said people found "the product to be less and less useful".

Despite the efforts, conservatives are still targeting Facebook and other technology companies. Facebook's Alex Hardiman explained, "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".

Facebook said it is also testing a new section called "Today In", which displays local breaking news, and a dedicated section of Facebook Watch in the US for live videos and other items exclusive to the platform. In answer, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company had found no evidence of this, but insisted steps would be taken to remedy the situation if evidence emerged.

The trending section has proved problematic in several important ways. Gizmodo reported in 2016 that the contract workers operating the section gave it a political slant, choosing not to link to news that was slanted towards conservatives. And, because algorithms are not flawless, they repeatedly goofed up, allowing fake news stories to spread across the network by highlighting factually inaccurate links that were going viral as well as other inappropriate content. Over the past few years, the feature, which displays news stories popular on the platform, has become a case study for why algorithms can't always do the job of a human, and why they can't solve Facebook's problems. But over time, the section failed to gain much traction among users, the company said Friday.

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.

On Friday, Facebook minimized Trending Topics' impact in a blog post announcing the change.

"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.

Testing is underway for a "breaking news" label with 80 news publishers worldwide, said the company.

The site is also reportedly working on a live coverage news section as part of Facebook Watch.


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