Facebook to Remove Its Controversial Trending News Section

There's one feed you won't be seeing this story in, that's for sure...

Facebook’s foray into news aggregation always felt like a mistake that would never leave anyone satisfied. After all, when your platform is meant to serve ostensibly everyone on the planet, jumping in with one of the most divisive things out there never seemed like a great idea per se. That and the unreliability of the stories, and their regular lateness, made it somewhat of an albatross. Facebook said in a statement:

“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. We will remove Trending from Facebook next week and we will also remove products and third-party partner integrations that rely on the Trends API.”

Facebook’s Trending Tab will be replaced by a “Today In” section which allows users to read local news from their area. Additionally, a “Breaking News” section will be added that will highlight important stories from News Sources you follow, and original news videos produced by Facebook will be added to the video section.

Facebook sadly announced this departure as one of the final pieces of news on its… tragic, exciting little detail.

 

The story of Facebook’s news feeds has been a spotty one, and one that sort of exists as a reflection of the larger troubles Facebook has gotten itself into when it allowed Cambridge Analytica to use data sold to them to help the Trump campaign, and the onslaught of Russian propaganda that made its way onto the site. It began when a report showed that the human beings who helped run the Trending section would post conservative news far less often. The human team was then replaced in 2016 by an aggregator, which at first would regularly accidentally post untrue news stories that were popular(or actual fake news) to use a very co-opted term. Facebook then changed the aggregator to only post stories covered by several sources, but the aggregator would often post stories a day behind most sources, most importantly Twitter, which Facebook saw as its competitor.

The removal of the Trending section doesn’t particularly solve the social media platform’s ongoing problems, the biggest of which is creating a bubble where your own point of view is reflected to you unto infinity to the point where foreign powers can take advantage of this and no one really knows until it’s too late, but at least a conversation is being had. I guess having to testify before Congress will do that to you.

What do you think of Facebook getting rid of its Trending section? Will you miss it? Do you not care? In any case, let us know in the comments, or on Twitter at @WhatsTrending.

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