Facebook to pull plug on 'Trending' topics feature

Facebook to pull plug on 'Trending' topics feature

Facebook to pull plug on 'Trending' topics feature

Facebook introduced a feature called Trending in 2014, and you can probably guess what it did even if you never touch Facebook. The Today In section, which is being piloted in 33 U.S. cities, is driving an average of 8 percent more traffic outbound from Facebook to the publishers themselves.

The company didn't provide a time frame for when Facebook's news-focused video hub would go live, but said that "soon" 10 to 12 US publishers will be launching news shows in Watch, focused on live coverage of breaking events, daily shows and weekly shows.

The algorithm-driven sidebar ultimately didn't serve its objective.

Facebook says publishers featured in this section are seeing an average of an 8 percent incremental increase in distribution - meaning outbound clicks.

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Facebook said it is testing different ways for news to spread on its Facebook instead, including a "breaking news" label and a dedicated section on Facebook for local news called Today In. When asked by Quartz, a spokesperson would not comment on whether the traffic was higher when it was using human moderators. 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 said it is also testing a new section called "Today In", which displays local breaking news, and a dedicated section of Facebook Watch in the USA for live videos and other items exclusive to the platform.

The trending section had been a headache for the company. During CEO Mark Zuckerberg's recent hearings before the US Congress and European Union parliament, purported prejudice against conservative-leaning posts was repeatedly brought up by lawmakers.

In May, the social media giant announced that it would bring in former Sen.

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During its four-year lifespan, it was accused of showing bias (on both sides of the partisan divide), and surfaced fake news stories - including one from the British tabloid The Daily Star about how the 9/11 attacks were faked.

The company says it's killing that feature next week in order to focus on other news features. "And we're investing in ways to better draw attention to breaking news when it matters most".

Eighty publishers around the world now have access to the tool, which allows them to add a label that indicates a story is "breaking".

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