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Facebook to remove 'trending' news stories section following years of controversy

02 June 2018

To replace the trending feature Facebook is testing a breaking news label and notifications and a new section on the platform called "Today In:".

The Trending feature introduced four years ago listed stories buzzing on Facebook at any given time.

Facebook's decision to kill the Trending section comes after a long, dubious saga in which the social network was widely criticized for the effectiveness and legitimacy of the feed. The backlash from conservatives led Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg to extend an olive branch, holding a meeting at his company headquarters with more than two dozen conservative figures including Glenn Beck, Dana Perino and Tucker Carlson.

While it may be true that Trending wasn't used very much, the feature also opened Facebook to attack from critics who complained it was jury-rigging the news diet of its massive user base.

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

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"We've seen that the way people consume news on Facebook is changing to be primarily on mobile and increasingly through news video", Hardiman wrote in the Facebook blog post. "And we're investing in ways to better draw attention to breaking news when it matters most".

The breaking news label that Facebook is testing with 80 news publishers will let outlets such as the Washington Post add a red label to indicate that a story is breaking news. These efforts will be funded by Facebook itself, the company said.

The Facebook logo is seen at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York's Times Square. It also proved problematic in ways that hinted at Facebook's later problems with fake news, political balance and the limitations of AI in managing the human world.

Today In: We're testing a dedicated section on Facebook called Today In that connects people to the latest breaking and important news from local publishers in their city, as well as updates from local officials and organizations.

He said the Trending feature would be removed "soon". Facebook says it only rolled Trends out in five countries, and it only accounted for about 1.5% of clicks for news sites. The company is also funding news videos, created exclusively for Facebook by outside publishers it would not yet name.