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02 June 2018, 12:30 | Yvette Williams
Facebook is discontinuing its troubled"trending section the social network announced Friday. MUST CREDIT Bloomberg
Previously, moderators for Facebook made the decisions. "And we're investing in ways to better draw attention to breaking news when it matters most".
Facebook said it was experimenting with other news products, including a section called Today In that includes breaking and local news.
In a blog post announcing Trending section's removal, Facebook's Alex Hardiman didn't wade into political bias territory, but instead noted that the way people consume news on Facebook has changed.
During its four-year lifespan, it was accused of showing bias (on both sides of the partisan divide), and surfaced fake news stories - including one from the British tabloid The Daily Star about how the 9/11 attacks were faked.
Facebook's controversial Trending section has fallen out of fashion and will be removed next week, along with products and third-party partner integrations that rely on the Trends API.
Eighty publishers around the world now have access to the tool, which allows them to add a label that indicates a story is "breaking". Facebook eventually fired the editors on the trending team, replacing them with an automated process.
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How the platform approached its role as a news disseminator has sparked heavy criticism across a number of different groups.
Media analysts have argued that Facebook's reaction to claims of anti-conservative bias led the company to take a more lax approach to the Russian disinformation campaign. It's being tested out in 30 markets in the U.S. Hardiman says the goal is to help "elevate great local journalism". However, the company declined to provide a list of publishers or details on the funding.
Trending Topics started in 2014 and caused plenty of headaches for Facebook. It plans to launch this feature in the next few months.
Facebook said that the module accounted for less than 1.5% of the clicks to news publishers and that internal research said people found "the product to be less and less useful". The section, which appears to the right of the main news feed on the desktop and in search on mobile, has been a lightning rod for criticism nearly since its launch in 2014.
We'll see if doing away with the Trending section and delivering more meaningful news does anything to improve user trust in Facebook.
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