The big picture: Trending topics occupied valuable real estate on the social network and its removal will present Facebook with improved opportunities to serve up breaking news to users.
Facebook on Friday announced it will soon be doing away with a controversial feature first introduced on the platform in 2014.
Facebook launched Trending as a way to help people discover popular news topics on the social network. It was often criticized, however, for its penchant to surface stories based on conspiracy theories, hoaxes and other fake news. Facebook was also accused of deliberately suppressing news stories published by conservative publications although an internal investigation found no evidence of political bias.
In announcing its removal, Alex Hardiman, head of news products at Facebook, said that through research, they learned that people found the product to be less and less useful over time. As such, it will be removed from Facebook next week. Products and third-party partner integrations that rely on the Trend API will also be pulled out of service, Hardiman said.
According to Hardiman, the feature was only offered in five countries and accounted for less than 1.5 percent of clicks to news publishers.
Facebook isn’t giving up on its mission to keep people informed about breaking news. The social network is testing a new “breaking news” label with 80 publishers across North America, South America, India, Europe and Australia as well as a dedicated section for local news called “Today In” and a new area to view live coverage, daily news briefs and weekly deep dives.