Say Goodbye to Trending Topics & Hello to Facebook Stories Polls

Trending Topics will officially disappear Thursday, June 7 in lieu of “future news experiences.”

According to an official Facebook blog post, the company is removing its Trending Topics section after a four-year run.

“We introduced Trending in 2014 as a way to help people discover news topics that were popular across the Facebook community. However, it was only available in five countries and accounted for less than 1.5% of clicks to news publishers on average,” said Alex Hardiman, head of news products at Facebook and author of the post. “From research we found that over time people found the product to be less and less useful,” she added.

In its brief two years, the feature was met with recurring criticism facing backlash for how stories were being selected, displaying false headlines including that former Fox News Anchor, Megyn Kelly, had been fired for supporting Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, and conspiracy theories about 9/11.. There were also allegations that the company was suppressing conservative stories. The response? Replace human moderators with algorithms solutions. Fast-forwarding to today, there’s a need for yet another change to reflect the shift in how people choose to consume news—namely via mobile devices and news video.

Per the announcement, the social media giant says its already working on a number of additional efforts with a focus on pushing breaking news from “trustworthy and quality sources.” These include a “breaking news” label and a dedicated section for local news called “Today In.” The company is also gearing up to introduce live-video news coverage, a service that will provide users with access to daily news briefings and weekly dives from within the platform’s already-existing Watch tab.

According to CNET, results from initial product tests are promising. The “breaking news” tag, currently being tested by 80 publishers across North America, South America, Europe, India and Australia, saw a 4 percent increase in users clicking through links with the label and an 11 percent uptick in people sharing these stories. Further, “Today In,” being piloted in 33 U.S. cities saw an average of increase of 8 percent more outbound traffic from Facebook to publishers.

“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,” Hardiman said.

Collectively, the moves reinforce Facebook’s initiative of 2018 of building community and ensuring time its users spend on the platform is “time well spent.” Specifically, this update follows on the heels of an announcement made in January in which the company claimed it would prioritize local stories in the News Feed.

Also continuing on the mission to facilitate more meaningful connections, the company as of late has invested in improving its Messenger platform. Most recently, you can now share polls in your Facebook Stories A spokesperson speaking on the decision told Adweek, “Aside from Stories, you can already create a poll in your messenger conversations, and we’ve heard from people that this is an incredibly helpful feature to get their friend’s opinions with bigger decisions like making weekend plans. Polls in Stories are an easy way to get feedback from a wider group of friends for the in-between moments in real-time.”

Article written by: Erica Perry