Facebook announced today that it is killing off its controversial Trending news section next week. “From research, we found that over time people found the product to be less and less useful,” Facebook’s Head of News Products said.
Photo: Chip Somodevilla (Getty)
Instead, Facebook says it’s pivoting to focus on a handful of other efforts, including live-streaming news coverage. New services will replace Trending, with a focus on pushing breaking news “from trustworthy and quality sources”. The company’s announcement post teases a few of the new features:
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. We’re also testing breaking news notifications.
Today In: We’re testing a dedicated section on Facebook called Today In that connects people to the latest breaking and important news from local publishers in their city, as well as updates from local officials and organisations.
News Video in Watch: We will soon have a dedicated section on Facebook Watch in the US where people can view live coverage, daily news briefings and weekly deep dives that are exclusive to Watch.
There’s no word on whether the curation of the newer products is algorithmic or human-led, or how Facebook will vet trustworthiness, both enormous points of contention in the original Trending product.
During CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony in the fallout of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the question of the company’s “conservative bias” was raised repeatedly. As a result, Facebook agreed to an audit determining whether conservative viewpoints are censored on the platform. Whatever replaces Trending, Facebook will certainly attempt to make it as controversy-free as possible.