Friday, 19 October, 2018

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

Beatrice Douglas | 02 June, 2018, 03:25

More problematic was the feature's tendency to spread fake news, particularly during the 2016 presidential election, The Associated Press noted. By contrast, he said, deciding what news stories should go in "trending" requires broad thinking, quick judgments about context and decisions about whether someone is trying to game the system.

"We are committed to ensuring the news that people see on Facebook is high quality", Hardiman said. Facebook's news curation process involved curators using something called an "injection tool" to force news into the Trending feed that wasn't naturally trending.

Despite the efforts, conservatives are still targeting Facebook and other technology companies. Zuckerberg met with prominent right-wing leaders at the company's headquarters in an attempt at damage control. Instead, the software algorithm began to pick out posts that were getting the most attention, even if the information in them was bogus.

The trending topics section officially launched in 2014 with the promise of helping users "discover the best content from all across Facebook".

To that end, Facebook is testing several new features, including a breaking news label for news outlets, breaking news notifications, a Today In section and more news coverage in Facebook Watch.


In Friday's announcement, Facebook also said that 80 publishers are testing a "breaking news" label that they can pin to their articles in the news feed.

"Breaking news has to look different than a recipe", Hardiman said.

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. It's being tested out in 30 markets in the U.S. Hardiman says the goal is to help "elevate great local journalism". It plans to launch this feature in the next few months.

The Trending feature introduced four years ago listed stories buzzing on Facebook at any given time. The Today In section, which is being piloted in 33 USA cities, is driving an average of 8 percent more traffic outbound from Facebook to the publishers themselves.

"From research we found that over time people found the product to be less and less useful", Hardiman said.

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