Facebook shutting down ‘trending news,’ a source of many of its woes

The Facebook logo is seen at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York's Times Square. Ultimately, the tool appears to have created more headaches for Facebook than it was actually worth to the company. In response, the company is investing in other news products, such as the "Breaking News" label, a local news tab, and news programs within Facebook Watch, its video service.

Facebook said it is also testing a new section called "Today In", which displays local breaking news, and a dedicated section of Facebook Watch in the US for live videos and other items exclusive to the platform.

It aligned with the pledge just a year earlier by Facebook chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, to make Facebook a "personal newspaper" for users.

Facebook introduced a feature called Trending in 2014, and you can probably guess what it did even if you never touch Facebook.

"From research we found that over time people found the product to be less and less useful", wrote in a post Alex Hardiman, head of news products.

While it may be true that Trending wasn't used very much, the feature also opened Facebook to attack from critics who complained it was jury-rigging the news diet of its massive user base. But at that time fake news was not a popular term and no foreign country had been accused of trying to influence the USA elections through social media, as Russian Federation would be.

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Breaking News Label: A test we're running with 80 publishers across North America, South America, Europe, India and Australia lets publishers put a "breaking news" indicator on their posts in News Feed. "So we're exploring new ways to help people stay informed about timely, breaking news that matters to them, while making sure the news they see on Facebook is from trustworthy and quality sources".

Facebook didn't announce any plans to bring back Trending, or some version of it in the future.

These new ways include a Breaking News label in the News Feed section for select publishers, a locally focused section that's being tested called Today In, and the addition of news video for US users of Facebook Watch.

Another feature, called "Today In", shows people breaking news in their area from local publishers, officials and organizations.

In many ways, those issues foreshadowed Facebook's more recent problems with fake news and political balance.

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