Tech

Facebook to swap ‘trending’ topics for breaking news

Facebook to swap ‘trending’ topics for breaking news

Facebook has sensibly chose to call it quits, and is discontinuing the feature - which has been a never-ending source of criticism for the company, despite only being available in a handful of countries.

Introduced in 2014, the section, available on desktop and mobile devices, was intended "to help people discover content that is both popular in the world and meaningful to them".

Facebook's head of news products, Alex Hardiman, wrote in the announcement that the company is now testing a breaking news label that would put the power of editorial decisions in the hands of news organizations.

Over 80 news publishers are now testing the "breaking news" label, which allows them to opt to flag their Instant Articles, mobile and web links, and Facebook Live video as breaking news, the company tells us.

A few months later, Facebook axed its Trending contract workers to make the product more automated, as if code written by people would somehow be free of the bias evident in decisions made by people.

However, the "Trending" section in particular has been a source of concern ever since the company fired its Trending editors, leaving the selection of stories to its algorithms. It will also launch news videos like live coverage, daily news briefings and weekly deep dives in its Watch tab, the service's home base for video. The company tried to temper this by removing human reviewers who helped manage trending topics in favor of supposedly unbiased algorithms.

More news: Barcelona star Lionel Messi retains hope of Newell's Old Boys chance

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.

"There are other ways for us to better invest our resources", Hardiman told the AP. Lawmakers in Congress and in Europe have raised the possibility of drafting new regulations to address Facebook's privacy violations.

How the platform approached its role as a news disseminator has sparked heavy criticism across a number of different groups.

Detailed in a press release, Facebook says that its trending feature was only available in select countries and didn't prove to be popular.

Facebook also is testing a dedicated section called Today In that connects people to breaking news from local publishers in their cities, as well as to updates from local officials and organizations.


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