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Facebook is removing the the trending news feature next week

02 June 2018

Trending was introduced in 2014 but was intensely controversial from the beginning.

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.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO, later met with conservative commentators and leaders to defuse an uproar over the allegations.

Nonetheless, the dustup prompted inquiries from partisan legislators aghast at the thought of political bias.

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In 2016, I reported for Gizmodo that the company hired a small group of about a dozen young journalists, primarily educated at Ivy League or East Coast universities, to curate and decide what everyone in the US was able to see in the Trending module - and more importantly what they weren't able to see.

The operational and algorithmic surgery evidently did not have the desired effect.

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.

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.

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"It was only available in five countries and accounted for less than 1.5 percent of clicks to news publishers on average". Indeed, in its announcement, Facebook noted that the way people consume news on Facebook is changing. A perception that Facebook had editorial bias made leadership skittish about even creating the appearance it was suppressing news, which gave fake stories a clearer path to spread.

Facebook also is testing a "breaking news" label with 80 publishers across North America, South America, Europe, India and Australia along with breaking-news notifications.

Another feature, called "Today In", shows people breaking news in their area from local publishers, officials and organizations. The Trending section will be removed for all users by next week. It will also launch news videos like live coverage, daily news briefings and weekly deep dives in its Watch tab, the service's home base for video.

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Facebook is removing the the trending news feature next week