Facebook To Replace Trending With Wider News Selections

Social giant Facebook has curated a Trending section since 2014, but as data indicates that the service is becoming less and less useful for both news publishers and users, the company plans to remove it and put three new options in its place. To be specific, Trending was available in only 5 countries worldwide, and Facebook's data indicated that it brought in less than 2% of the total clicks that the average news site gets from Facebook. Those new options consist of a Breaking News tag that news outlets can put on stories in the main Facebook News Feed, a locally-focused section called Today In, and a video section called Watch that will be focused on exclusive news content. Trending will be gone as of next week, and the new options will begin to roll out around that time.

Watch is among the more ambitious of the new items, being a platform for delivery and discovery of news videos that focuses on exclusive content that Facebook will be getting first. This means that the company will be working to acquire that content, potentially through means such as hiring a news team. Watch will debut in the United States, and if successful, will begin to roll out internationally at an undefined time. Today, meanwhile, is a local news section that will focus on geographically relevant content as low as the city level. That one is currently being tested. Finally, the Breaking News label is currently being tested with a suite of 80 trustworthy news partners, and the hope is that the tag will end up serving as an indicator of recent, trustworthy, actionable news.

Facebook, in announcing these changes, did not touch on somewhat recent controversies surrounding the site's Trending section. There was trouble with the curation of the section, and this led to issues with perceived spin, and even fake news and hate speech getting through on occasion thanks to the involvement of AI. Given Trending's prominent spot on Facebook, this was highly problematic for obvious reasons, and led to humans taking over part of the curation duties. While Facebook did not outright say that Trending is being cut out because it was a thorn in the service's side, it's not entirely illogical to assume that's at least part of the reason.

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