Facebook is shutting down its notorious 'trending' feature

Facebook is shutting down its notorious 'trending' feature

Facebook is shutting down its notorious 'trending' feature

"From research we found that over time people found the product to be less and less useful", Alex Hardiman, head of news products at Facebook, said in post on the social media giant's website.

The biggest controversy came in 2016 when former Facebook staffers reported they regularly suppressed conservative news topics in the Trending section, calling into question the feature's legitimacy.

A few months later, Facebook axed its Trending contract workers to make the product more automated, as if code written by people would somehow be free of the bias evident in decisions made by people.

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. Facebook Watch will soon have a dedicated section for live news coverage.

The algorithm-driven sidebar ultimately didn't serve its objective.

Trending accounted for less than 1.5 percent of clicks to news publishers on average, Facebook said here in a blog post, adding the company was testing ways to display news including a "breaking news label" and "today in", a dedicated section for local news.

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"We are committed to ensuring the news that people see on Facebook is high quality", Hardiman said.

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.

However, the "Trending" section in particular has been a source of concern ever since the company fired its Trending editors, leaving the selection of stories to its algorithms. During CEO Mark Zuckerberg's recent hearings before the US Congress and European Union parliament, purported prejudice against conservative-leaning posts was repeatedly brought up by lawmakers.

According to the Pew Research Centre, 44% of U.S. adults get some or all of their news through Facebook. "Fake news" wasn't yet a popular term, and no foreign country had been accused of trying to influence the USA elections through social media, as Russian Federation later would be.

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

Facebook says the trending section was never popular.

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