June 2, 2017
Facebook’s ‘trending’ section has undergone a renovation this week. When you select a trending story, the new carousel format allows you to access a variety of different news articles and posts that other Facebook users have written on one story. The old format just directed you to one single news source when you clicked on the trending story. The carousel will make it easier for users to see different coverage of the same story, and select which source they’d rather read from.
Additionally, Facebook is making it easier for people to locate the trending topics option. While it used to be hidden in the search box, it will soon appear in your news feed. You can of course, hide the trending stories from appearing in your feed.
The slight problem is that the redesign hasn’t changed the way Facebook determines what the trending stories are. Facebook still looks at the general engagement around the article online, and the engagement around the publisher. Last year, Facebook was scrutinised for the ‘trending’ articles being biased as they only directed you to one source of news. It was almost always a liberal article or source, meaning people got more and more trapped in the social media echo chamber, struggling with what to believe. Facebook are counteracting this by suggesting that by giving users direct access to more than one news source, they can evaluate bias of their own accord and therefore, Facebook have a more impartial stand.
Facebook are claiming this is another attempt at combatting fake news, however, it is doubtful which stories Facebook will be directing you to when they’re still using the same algorithm to source them. We can’t say how reliable the sources will be, but on that note, at least you have a more diverse range of stories to read.