Social media service Facebook is to shut down its troubled Trending Stories feature next week with the Breaking News label announced in March to replace it along with a new local news service.
Trending stories, which reported popular news topics similar to the Twitter Trends feature, was introduced in 2014 for Australian, US, UK, Indian and Canadian users. It started attracting criticism after accusations in the US of political bias and employees’ claims of toxic and sexist work conditions.
Alex Hardiman, Facebook’s head of news products, announced the service’s June 7 closure this morning citing user disinterest in the feature which saw publishers only getting 1.5% of their Facebook referrals through the service and very poor take up of the service on mobile platforms.
When the service was launched in 2014, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was promoting the company’s application of artificial intelligence to its algorithms, however Trending Stories was heavily reliant on contractors and journalists to curate the feed.ADVERTISEMENT
The reliance created headaches for the company’s management as accusations of bias against US right wing media sites was made by Gizmodo in 2016 followed shortly afterwards by The Guardian publishing allegations of the Trending Stories workplace having a toxic and sexist environment.
Mumbrella understands Facebook’s Australian office does not employ local staff to curate Trending Stories and has contacted the company for comment.
In his statement, Hardiman said; “People tell us they want to stay informed about what is happening around them. We are committed to ensuring the news that people see on Facebook is high quality, and we’re investing in ways to better draw attention to breaking news when it matters most”
Along with the Breaking News label, Hardiman announced Facebook is testing a dedicated section on Facebook called Today In to connect people with the latest breaking and important news from local publishers, officials and organisations in their communities.
For US users, Hardiman also announced a dedicated section on Facebook Watch offering live coverage, daily news briefings and weekly deep dives are exclusive to Watch.
The company also announced it would shut down its Signal content discovery tool for journalists, moving them onto the CrowdTangle service and Facebook’s general search feature.