As the fake news saga continues, Facebook announced on Friday that it’s removing the Trending section from its site. The tool for discovering trending news stories first launched four years ago and, since then, has grown gradually unpopular and was often criticised for jeopardising the legitimacy of the feed.
In 2016, accusations of bias from right-wing groups led to the an algorithm replacing the human team running the tab, which led to an influx of fake news based off popularity rather than, you know, factual news.
In a statement, the company said:
“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 percent 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.”
But they’re not ditching news altogether. The tech giant is looking at a number of ideas for “future news experiences,” it said. This includes a Breaking News Label that is being tested with 80 publishers across the world, and a “Today In” section that informs people about the latest news from local publishers, along with updates from local officials and organisations. Additionally, Facebook is focusing a lot of attention on its video platform Facebook Watch, with plans to host live coverage, daily news briefings, and weekly news recaps.
Facebook’s reputation on delivering news has undoubtedly been tarnished and it’s going to take some convincing before the social platform becomes the go-to place for headlines. Let’s leave that to Twitter.