Facebook is shuttering the much-maligned Trending topics section next week, noting it accounted for just 1.5% of clicks to news publishers in the five countries where it was displayed in the News Feed.
You’ve likely noticed the Trending box in the upper right-hand corner of your News Feed page before, only to forget about it and never click on a link there again.
Active since 2014, the section highlighted three top news stories trending across the platform, though how Facebook decided which news items to include the box often came under scrutiny.
The biggest controversy came in 2016 when former Facebook staffers reported they regularly suppressed conservative news topics in the Trending section, calling into question the feature’s legitimacy.
In a blog post announcing Trending section’s removal, Facebook’s Alex Hardiman didn’t wade into political bias territory, but instead noted that the way people consume news on Facebook has changed.
“From research we found that over time people found the product to be less and less useful,” Hardiman said.
In place of the Trending section, Facebook will focus on delivering high quality, reliable news via mobile and video, areas where it’s seen users gravitate to get their news fix.
To that end, Facebook is testing several new features, including a breaking news label for news outlets, breaking news notifications, a Today In section and more news coverage in Facebook Watch.
We’ll see if doing away with the Trending section and delivering more meaningful news does anything to improve user trust in Facebook. Small steps.