Facebook's Trending feature has been the subject of a bit of controversy lately. Namely, Facebook was accused of showing political bias in the selection and showcasing of Trending topics that users would see featured on the front page. Facebook's higher-ups performed an investigation and eventually ended up turning up nothing, but some users were not convinced. For those users and the many others who would feel better if the feature had less human control, Facebook has rolled out some changes to both the user interface of the Trending feature and the way it works under the hood.
The biggest change is that human curators will no longer hand-write the topic descriptions, taking out the possibility of "spin", or painting a topic to suit one's agenda. Instead, topic descriptions will be replaced by excerpts from chosen articles and posts within the topic. These will be selected algorithmically, making the process that little bit less human. While human curators will still maintain what topics make it onto the ticker, this is mainly needed to avoid fairly mundane or non-newsworthy topics flooding the feature out, such as the daily deluge of people posting about their jobs or common elements of their home lives like chores or parenting. One thing the change will not affect is the parts of the process that were already automated. The topics a user sees will still be affected by their own activity and the information that Facebook has on them.
While not quite as big a deal as the backend change, in light of recent events, the Trending feature is also getting a couple of major user interface changes as of today. Rather than having the summaries and excerpts next to the topic listings, users will see the topics and how many people are talking about them on Facebook at the moment. Hovering your mouse over a topic on the desktop version of Facebook will summon whatever post or article the algorithms have decided represents the topic at hand the most accurately. Mobile users can now see the amount of people talking about a trending topic, but there is still no way to preview a topic the same way desktop users can; mobile users can click on a topic to run a search for it, and simply back out and go back to the list if they don't find anything that catches their interest.