As it attempts to do better on the news front, Facebook has decided to remove the "Trending" section from people's news feeds.
In the "fake news" era where falsehoods are distributed widely, and often without accompanying verification, the social media company is testing new products aimed at delivering news culled from trustworthy sources.
"We're removing Trending soon to make way for future news experiences on Facebook," said news products head Alex Hardiman in a blog post. She added that the company is exploring new ways to keep people informed "while making sure the news they see on Facebook is from trustworthy and quality sources."
Facebook Announces Future News Experiences
By future news experiences, Hardiman refers to the new breaking news label, a "Today In" feature that's currently in testing, and news videos in the Watch tab.
The Trending section was first introduced in 2014, though it didn't become very popular among users, partly because Facebook made it available only in five countries. It accounted for a low number of clicks to news stories, as Engadget notes. Clicks decreased even more over time, which meant people were finding it less and less useful.
It also brought a lot of problems for the company while it was still part of news feeds. For example, Facebook was accused of suppressing conservative news in the Trending section, so it fired human editors in 2016 to deal with such complaints. It also decided to go with algorithms to make unbiased news selections, but the algorithm wasn't perfect because it often spread false information.
Facebook says Trending will be gone starting next week.
Facebook Wants To Get Better At News Coverage
To get better at delivering news, Hardiman says the company is increasingly handing over news-related features to news organizations instead of trying to deal with those problems itself.
The announcement comes after a series of scandals involving data privacy, the most significant of which is the Cambridge Analytica fiasco, where Facebook knew an organization had stolen data from millions upon millions of accounts but kept its mouth shut about the ordeal. While seemingly unrelated, it's important to make a connection between the plight of fake news and data misuse on Facebook, since both, in the end, make people distrustful of the site. For his part, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has apologized for failing to protect users' information.
Thoughts on Facebook's renewed approach to news coverage? As always, if you have anything to share, feel free to sound them off in the comments section below!