On Friday, Facebook announced that they'd be getting rid of their "trending topics" section, which was harangued by accusations of political bias, and also was considered to be increasingly pointless by Facebook's own admission. According to the company 's head of news products, Alex Hardiman, the move would become official next week as Facebook makes room for "future news experiences," whatever that means.
"From research we found that over time people found the product to be less and less useful," said Hardiman in a Friday blog post.
The trending section was initially introduced in 2014 as yet another medium for people to consume internet news. However, it became a source of criticism from conservatives after an ex-contractor who worked on the project said the company suppressed issues important to them in order to make room for liberal causes.
In an effort to mend that, Mark Zuckerberg met with conservative leaders prior to firing the human editors in charge of the section. An algorithm was then put in place to decide what was "trending," but in retrospect that turned out to be a bad idea. In addition to promoting stories that would/did offend the sensibilities of some users (like, say, this one about a guy whacking off in his McDonald's order) it also promoted hoaxes which were accepted and spread by the platform's less discerning members, who are just far too numerous for the 21st century (seriously, dude).
At this time, Facebook is still trying to find a way to counter "fake news" while highlighting real stories from reputable outlets, which can not be that hard. It just can't.
According to Hardiman, Facebook is testing breaking news notifications and labels with a number of publishers, which will allow them to highlight a developing story. They also have a(nother) test section called "Today In," which lets people figure out what the hell is happening in local news.
All this comes in addition to an announcement made in January where Zuckerberg said the news feed algorithm would be altered, with a focus on friends, family, and "meaningful interactions," and less of a focus on comparatively cold-hearted brands and publishers.