Facebook to pull plug on 'Trending' topics feature

Facebook says publishers featured in this section are seeing an average of an 8 percent incremental increase in distribution - meaning outbound clicks.

Facebook, ever eager avoid the liability that comes with being a publisher, said there was no bias.but nonetheless allowed that it "could not fully exclude the possibility of isolated improper actions or unintentional bias in the implementation of our guidelines or policies".

Introduced in 2014, the section, available on desktop and mobile devices, was intended "to help people discover content that is both popular in the world and meaningful to them".

Facebook's head of news products, Alex Hardiman, said the company is still committed to real-time news.

The section, which launched in 2014, was created to help people quickly find interesting topics on Facebook.

Facebook is testing new features, including a breaking news label that publishers can add to stories to distinguish them. Facebook responded to the backlash by removing humans from the equation, and relying purely on algorithms - which produced a different set of problems, like surfacing bogus news accounts, like the erroneous story about Fox News firing Megyn Kelly for supporting Hillary Clinton.

In 2016, reports surfaced that the Trending section suppressed conservative news stories. Facebook also wants to make local news more prominent.

The company didn't provide a time frame for when Facebook's news-focused video hub would go live, but said that "soon" 10 to 12 US publishers will be launching news shows in Watch, focused on live coverage of breaking events, daily shows and weekly shows.

He said the Trending feature would be removed "soon". "So we're exploring new ways to help people stay informed about timely, breaking news that matters to them, while making sure the news they see on Facebook is from trustworthy and quality sources".

The relationship between journalism and Facebook has always been fraught. 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.

Facebook also is testing a dedicated section called Today In that connects people to breaking news from local publishers in their cities, as well as to updates from local officials and organizations.

Detailed in a press release, Facebook says that its trending feature was only available in select countries and didn't prove to be popular.

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