Facebook's Trending news box follows fired freelancers out the door

02 June, 2018, 03:27 | Author: Elena Summers
  • Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook is testing a feature focused on highlighting breaking news

"From research we found that over time people found the product to be less and less useful", Alex Hardiman, head of news products at Facebook, said in post on the social media giant's website.

Facebook is discontinuing its troubled "trending" section, the social network announced Friday.

Facebook also is testing a "breaking news" label with 80 publishers across North America, South America, Europe, India and Australia along with breaking-news notifications.

Facebook shared some early results from some of these product tests.

Another news product that Facebook is exploring, called "Today In", gives prominence to local news sources.

Meanwhile, the "Today In" feature is in testing in 33 USA cities across the U.S.

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These new ways include a Breaking News label in the News Feed section for select publishers, a locally focused section that's being tested called Today In, and the addition of news video for US users of Facebook Watch. But over time, the section failed to gain much traction among users, the company said Friday. However, the company declined to provide a list of publishers or details on the funding.

But the curation of trending news in the absence of human oversight led to more blowback and embarrassment. The backlash from conservatives led Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg to extend an olive branch, holding a meeting at his company headquarters with more than two dozen conservative figures including Glenn Beck, Dana Perino and Tucker Carlson. When recently testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, he insisted again that Facebook is a tech company. "And we're investing in ways to better draw attention to breaking news when it matters most".

And in almost the same breath, he then went on to admit that Facebook pays to "help produce content" - as it's doing now with these new news videos.

Trending Topics started in 2014 and caused plenty of headaches for Facebook. Google offers a whole suite of products around tracking trends, and Twitter offers trends, even down to a local level. The changes and features Facebook is putting out, he said, are being treated as "bug fixes" - addressing single problems the way engineers do.

Facebook says it's removing its controversial "Trending" section because no one was actually using it.

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