Facebook has long struggled with fake news on its platform and one of the reasons behind it was Trending Topics. Trending topics was one of the features on the social networking platform that turned out to be controversial and a major backlash for the company. Started in 2014, trending topics was accused of showing bias on negative stories and surfaced fake news stories. Facebook now announced that this feature will be killed by next week claiming that it is neither trying to promote journalism nor intends to be a media company. It will also remove products and third-party integrations that rely on the Trends API.
Facebook is making a sensible move by removing trending topics because its algorithms were not perfect, allowing fake news to spread across the network. The fake news highlighted inaccurate links and content that went viral ruining an individual and institution’s image and reputation. Facebook found through research that the feature accounted for 1.5 percent of clicks and it was proving futile to its users. The removal of trending topics will pave way for future news products and experiences. Some of these will include:
Breaking news: A feature that will allow publishers use a breaking news label on their posts in the newsfeed. It will allow publishers flag their articles, mobile, and web links and will be a dedicated section for only relevant news. Over 80 news publishers are currently testing the feature across North America, South America, Europe, India, and Australia.
Today in: A feature that connects people to the latest breaking news from local publishers, officials and organizations.
News Video in Watch: A dedicated section of news on Facebook Watch, where people can view live coverage, daily news briefings and weekly updates on various news topics. It is in its testing phase in 33 U.S. cities. Only 10 to 12 U.S. publishers will be launching news shows in Watch, focusing on live coverage of breaking events and news.
It will be interesting to watch how Facebook progresses with its fake news dilemma without trending topics.