Facebook announced recently that they would be removing Trending: the section of the site on the right-hand side of the News Feed that displays a list of popular news topics at a given time.
The Trending section was originally launched in 2014 as a way to help people discover topics that were popular across the Facebook community, but is being phased out to make way for new news-related products.
Some think, however, that there’s a different reason for Trending going away. Here’s what some experts have to say on the matter.
Why is Trending Really Going Away?
- Stories that reflect negatively on Facebook often appear in Trending – Trending aggregates popular news among Facebook users based on the number of publishers that are posting articles about a particular subject and the engagement level of the articles. Facebook has received a high amount of scrutiny and negative news coverage in the past year, which often take a top position on their own Trending list.
- Facebook has received flak for fake news on Trending – Much of what is popularly shared on Facebook consists of false content, and due to Trending’s aggregation of news topics based on engagement and popularity, this has resulted in fake news making its way onto the list on more than one occasion. Removing Trending may be the latest in a series of moves by Facebook to slow the spread of fake news.
- Authentic publishers weren’t benefitting from Trending – Trending has only been available in five countries, and it accounted for less than 1.5% of clicks to news publishers on average. This, combined with the proliferation of fake news, is part of Facebook’s reasoning for removing the section.
Facebook seems to be pivoting to address the mobile-first preference among users, and are exploring ways to help people stay informed about news that matters to them, while making sure the news is coming from trustworthy sources.
In addition to the above factors, the time spent on Facebook could be another underlying motivator for the move. While Trending may not have hurt user retention, it likely was not helping.
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