Facebook killing controversial ‘Trending’ feature, breaking news alerts and more coming

Facebook killing controversial ‘Trending’ feature, breaking news alerts and more coming

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 is discontinuing its troubled "trending" section, the social network announced Friday.

"We've seen that the way people consume news on Facebook is changing to be primarily on mobile and increasingly through news video", explained Alex Hardiman, head of news products, in a blog post.

"There are other ways for us to better invest our resources", Hardiman told the AP.

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The trending section had been a headache for the company. In 2016, Gizmodo reported that Facebook's contract workers often chose not to link to news with a conservative slant.

In late 2016, Facebook fired the human editors who worked on trending topics and replaced them with software that was supposed to be free of political bias. But at that time fake news was not a popular term and no foreign country had been accused of trying to influence the United States elections through social media, as Russian Federation would be.

These new ways include a Breaking News label in the News Feed section for select publishers, a locally focused section that's being tested called Today In, and the addition of news video for US users of Facebook Watch.

The company Friday said the feature, which it intends to remove next week, became less useful over time, and that removing it would "make way for future news experiences" on the platform.

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The contractor claimed Facebook downplayed conservative issues and promoted liberal causes. Facebook continues to face criticism from right-leaning circles.

Facebook, ever eager avoid the liability that comes with being a publisher, said there was no bias.but nonetheless allowed that it "could not fully exclude the possibility of isolated improper actions or unintentional bias in the implementation of our guidelines or policies". When recently testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, he insisted again that Facebook is a tech company.

And in almost the same breath, he then went on to admit that Facebook pays to "help produce content" - as it's doing now with these new news videos. Some critics have even called on antitrust officials to break the company up.

Facebook is now testing new features, including a "breaking news" label that publishers can add to stories to distinguish them from other chatter.

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