Facebook is shutting down its Trending Topics section

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

The Today In section, which is being piloted in 33 United States cities, is driving an average of 8 percent more traffic outbound from Facebook to the publishers themselves. Indeed, in its announcement, Facebook noted that the way people consume news on Facebook is changing.

Facebook is done with Trending, though. "From research we found that over time people found the product to be less and less useful", said Hardiman.

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 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.

Ultimately, Facebook appears to conclude that trying to fix the headaches around trending wasn't worth the meager benefit the company, users and news publishers saw in it.

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Alex Hardiman, Facebook's head of news products, announced in a post that the Trending section introduced to the site's front page in 2014 will be removed next week.

Facebook says it's exploring new ways to help people stay informed about up-to-the-minute news events including things like working with 80 publishers to add a new breaking news label to posts on in the News Feed. These efforts will be funded by Facebook itself, the company said.

But the curation of trending news in the absence of human oversight led to more blowback and embarrassment. In 2016, Gizmodo reported that Facebook's contract workers often chose not to link to news with a conservative slant.

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. "And we're investing in ways to better draw attention to breaking news when it matters most".

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Finally, the company is betting big on its video platform Facebook Watch, where it plans to host live coverage, daily news briefings, and weekly news recaps that are exclusive to the platform.

Another feature, called "Today In", shows people breaking news in their area from local publishers, officials and organizations.

The company is also funding news videos, created exclusively for Facebook by publishers it would not yet name.

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