It may be harder yet to get your news from Facebook. The social media company is continuing its efforts to cut down on the potential for fake news and the possibility of bias and is removing its Trending Topics section next week. “We’re removing Trending soon to make way for future news experiences on Facebook,” Alex Hardiman, head of Facebook News Products, wrote in a blog post. So begin saying your goodbyes now.
The Trending box, which can currently be found on the righthand side of your Facebook homepage, and includes various topics like Politics, Science, and Sports, has been around since 2014. The idea, Hardiman noted, was to “help people discover news topics that were popular across the Facebook community.” That said, Trending was plagued with issues from the start. It was only made available in five countries, and apparently, was responsible for driving less than 1.5 percent of news publishers’ total clicks on average. Moreover, it seems that Facebook users grew increasingly tired of Trending, or perhaps, increasingly wary of its topics. Facebook has long faced criticism over how it decided what stories were actually worthy of the label, and with the rise of fake news on the social network, it comes as little surprise that it’s looking to shut down any potential problem areas.
“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,” Hardiman wrote. “We’ve seen that the way people consume news on Facebook is changing to be primarily on mobile and increasingly through news video. So we’re exploring new ways to help people stay informed about timely, breaking news that matters to them, while making sure the news they see on Facebook is from trustworthy and quality sources.”
What does that mean for you? Moving forward, you will soon begin seeing a Breaking News Label, which will allow a test group of 80 publishers add a “breaking news” indicator to their Facebook posts. Facebook may also begin sending breaking news notifications. The company is also testing a new section called Today In, which purports to connect “people to the latest breaking and important news from local publishers in their city, as well as updates from local officials and organizations.” Finally, there will be news videos in the Facebook Watch section for folks in the U.S., where you’ll be able to find exclusive live coverage, daily news briefings, and weekly deep dives.
“People tell us they want to stay informed about what is happening around them,” Hardiman concluded. “We are committed to ensuring the news that people see on Facebook is high quality, and we’re investing in ways to better draw attention to breaking news when it matters most.”