Facebook Shuts Down ‘Trending’ Topics, Tests ‘Breaking News’ Feature

Tab dedicated to quick news hits brought in little clicks and occasionally surfaced fake news

Facebook is shuttering its “Trending” topics section, dedicated to giving users a quick look at the news, after the service became “less and less useful,” the company announced on Friday.

The tab had grown outdated and unpopular, according to a blog post from Alex Hardiman, Facebook’s head of News Products. “Trending” only accounted for less than 1.5 percent of clicks for publishers in the five countries it was available (the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, and India). Populated by Facebook’s algorithm, “Trending” was at times a major headache for the company — circulating a 9/11 hoax in 2016, just one example. It’s set to close down next week.

In its place, Facebook plans to roll out a few new ways to highlight the news, including a “Breaking News” label that will accompany posts users’ News Feed. The label is currently being tested with 80 publishers in the U.S., Europe, Australia, and India.

Facebook is also testing a new tab called “Today,” aiming to connect users to local news. Facebook Watch, the social network’s year-old video tab, will also start featuring news ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

“We will soon have a dedicated section on Facebook Watch in the U.S. where people can view live coverage, daily news briefings and weekly deep dives that are exclusive to Watch,”  Hardiman said in the blog post.

The announcement comes a day after CEO Mark Zuckerberg reiterated the company’s stance on fighting the spread of misinformation in 2018 at its annual shareholder meeting.