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In its new-found bid to highlight genuine news on its network, Facebook has announced updates to its Trending feature.
Trending, a feature added to the social network in 2014, shows users “popular topics being discussed on Facebook that they might not see in their News Feed” based on algorithms and reviewed by a company team. It’s a lot like Twitter’s trending hashtag system, and allows users to gauge what’s currently hot on the social network.
But this doesn’t always mean that what’s hot is actually relevant, or even factual.
According to Facebook’s product management VP, Will Cathcart, the company will be making three primary changes to its system.
More power to journalists
Firstly, Facebook will now include “publisher headlines” beneath each of the trending topics. Headlines are also determined by the number of engagements an article receives on the network. This was a much-requested feature too, Cathcart notes, and will aim to provide “people with more context on what is trending on Facebook”.
“These are the same headlines that appear when you hover over or click on a Trending topic, but people told us they wanted these headlines directly within Trending, too.”
The company has also scrapped the “people talking about this” subheading, which indicated how often the term was mentioned on the network.
Facebook Trending debuted in 2014 but has since received a number of nips and tucks
Facebook is also changing the way it identifies trending topics. Instead of simply looking at single posts, the company will now look at “the number of publishers” posting about a specific subject and that particular “group of articles”.
Cathcart hopes the change will “surface trending topics quicker, be more effective at capturing a broader range of news and events from around the world and also help ensure that trending topics reflect real-world events being covered by multiple news outlets”.
And finally, in a bid to standardise its platform across nations and regions, Facebook’s Trending feature will no longer be personalised, but region-specific across all users.
While Facebook Trending is only available in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and India for now, the changes are a step in the right direction for the social network.
Trending’s last big change came in August 2016, when the company decided to rely on algorithms instead of fully-human curators.