Facebook removing ‘trending’ topics feature


Facebook on Friday said that it will scrap its “trending” topics news section next week and introduce a new “breaking news” label available for posts.

The trending section had been a large target of criticism for the company.


Alex Hardiman, Facebook’s head of news products, said the feature, which was only available in five countries, had only accounted for an average of 1.5 percent of clicks to a media outlet’s page.

“From research we found that over time people found the product to be less and less useful,” Hardiman wrote in a post.

The company instead said it will explore new news-related projects like letting publishers include a “breaking news” label on their posts in Facebook’s newsfeed. Hardiman said Facebook is testing the new label with 80 publishers across North America, South America, Europe, India and Australia.

Facebook will also introduce a new section on Facebook Watch, the platform’s on-demand video service, that will show exclusive “live coverage, daily news briefings and weekly deep dives,” according to Hardiman.

In the last several years, the world’s biggest social media platform has become a dominating force in how news is disseminated — 44 percent of adults in America get at least some of their news from Facebook, according to the Pew Research Center.

How the platform approached its role as a news disseminator has sparked heavy criticism across a number of different groups.

Conservatives have often charged Facebook with being biased against them, grilling Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg on the issue in an April hearing.

Others have hammered the company over not initially doing enough to stop the rampant spread of “fake news” across its site.

Facebook’s “trending” topics section had become a focal point of such criticisms. The company tried to temper this by removing human reviewers who helped manage trending topics in favor of supposedly unbiased algorithms. It addressed fake news accusations by adding new labels and working with third-party groups to review the veracity of stories posted on the site.

In May, the social media giant announced that it would bring in former Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) to be the lead adviser on a new review of possible bias against conservatives on the platform.

Despite the efforts, conservatives are still targeting Facebook and other technology companies.

This week, during a speech, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) continued the Republican salvo against tech.

“Social media is being rigged to censor conservative voices. We will not be silenced,” he wrote in a tweet displaying the video of his remarks.

Tags Bias breaking news Conservative Facebook Kevin McCarthy Mark Zuckerberg

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