NEW YORK – Facebook is shutting down its ill-fated “trending” news section after four years. A company official told The Associated Press that the feature is outdated and wasn’t popular.
“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 said the feature was only available in five countries and accounted for roughly 1.5 percent of the traffic to news publishers’ sites.
Facebook said it is testing new features, including a “breaking news” label that publishers can add to stories and ways to make local news more prominent. The company also will add a section called Facebook Watch where users can view live news coverage along with other content.
Facebook drew fire after actors linked to Russia ran thousands of ads on the platform in an effort to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.
The trending section has proved problematic in several important ways. First came a report that its human editors were biased against conservatives. After Facebook fired those editors, the algorithms it replaced them with couldn’t always distinguish real news from fake.
In many ways, those issues foreshadowed Facebook’s more recent problems with fake news and political balance.
According to research from Pew, about 44 percent of U.S. adults get news from Facebook.
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