Facebook removing 'trending' topics feature

The move, effective next week, comes at a time when the world's largest social network is combating the spread of fake news on its platform, which has in some places become central to the distribution of news. The section, which appears to the right of the main news feed on the desktop and in search on mobile, has been a lightning rod for criticism nearly since its launch in 2014.

Facebook's controversial Trending section has fallen out of fashion and will be removed next week, along with products and third-party partner integrations that rely on the Trends API.

The algorithm-driven sidebar ultimately didn't serve its objective. The algorithms promoted 9/11 conspiracy theories, a false story about then-Fox News host Megyn Kelly, and a parody news article about magical iPhone features, which some say were early indicators of Facebook's misinformation problem.

Facebook said it is testing new features, including a "breaking news" label that publishers can add to stories and ways to make local news more prominent.

The breaking news label that Facebook is testing with 80 news publishers will let outlets such as the Washington Post add a red label to indicate that a story is breaking news. In early 2017, Facebook made another attempt to fix the trending section, this time by including only topics covered by several news publishers. During CEO Mark Zuckerberg's recent hearings before the US Congress and European Union parliament, purported prejudice against conservative-leaning posts was repeatedly brought up by lawmakers.


Over 80 news publishers are now testing the "breaking news" label, which allows them to opt to flag their Instant Articles, mobile and web links, and Facebook Live video as breaking news, the company tells us.

Facebook didn't announce any plans to bring back Trending, or some version of it in the future. But she said Facebook's focus now is prioritizing trustworthy, informative news that people find useful. "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.

"Breaking news has to look different than a recipe", Hardiman said.

Detailed in a press release, Facebook says that its trending feature was only available in select countries and didn't prove to be popular.

  • Kara Saunders