Facebook to swap ‘trending’ topics for breaking news

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In 2016, conservative critics accused Facebook of favoring left-leaning news stories in Trending topics.

Facebook has announced that it will be dropping its "Trending" feature that promotes popular news content on the platform.

First introduced in 2014, the Trending section is going away "to make way for future news experiences on Facebook", Alex Hardiman, head of news products, wrote in a blog post. A dedicated section in Watch, News Video will give users access to live coverage, daily news briefings as well as exclusive weekly shows. Presumably Facebook is devoting considerably more resources to the new feature, but that isn't likely to stop certain news sites and publishers from complaining if their articles aren't highlighted and those from other news sites are.

The announcement comes after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified to Congress in April: "I$3 t's clear now that we didn't do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm as well".

The Facebook logo is seen at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York's Times Square.

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"There are other ways for us to better invest our resources", Ms Hardiman said.

Trending is being pulled from Facebook next week and it will also remove products and third-party partner integrations that rely on the Trends API, the company said. It was available only in five countries and accounted for less than 1.5% of clicks to the websites of news publishers.

Facebook appears to have concluded trying to fix the headaches around trending was not worth the meagre benefits the company, users and news publishers saw in it.

Mumbrella understands Facebook's Australian office does not employ local staff to curate Trending Stories and has contacted the company for comment.

The company instead said it will explore new news related projects like letting publishers include a "breaking news" label on their posts in Facebook's newsfeed. However it seems that Facebook has decided that they will no longer be needing the feature. Following an internal investigation, the tech titan essentially acknowledged its Trending feature was, for a time, influenced by liberal bias.