Facebook is shutting down its ill-fated “trending” news section after four years, a company executive told The Associated Press.
The company claims the tool is outdated and wasn’t popular. But the trending section also proved problematic in ways that would presage Facebook’s later problems with fake news, political balance and the limitations of artificial intelligence in managing the messy human world.
Facebook is shutting down the ‘trending news’ section after four years
But the trending section also proved problematic in ways that would presage Facebook’s later problems with fake news, political balance and the limitations of artificial intelligence in managing the messy human world.
It fit nicely into CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s pledge just a year earlier to make Facebook its users’ ‘personal newspaper.’
But that was then. ‘Fake news’ wasn’t yet a popular term, and no foreign country had been accused of trying to influence the U.S. elections through social media.
Trending news that year included the death of Robin Williams, Ebola and the World Cup.
But 33-year-old founder Mark Zuckerberg said earlier this year that he wants to change the focus to help users have ‘more meaningful social interactions.’
The move follows his resolution in 2018 to ‘fix’ the site.
It is also in response to criticism that Facebook and its social media competitors reinforce users’ views on social and political issues.
Critics say sites like Facebook lead to addictive viewing habits.
The troubles underscore the difficulty of relying on computers, even artificial intelligence, to make sense of the messy human world without committing obvious, sometimes embarrassing and occasionally disastrous errors.
Ultimately, Facebook appears to conclude that trying to fix the headaches around trending wasn’t worth the meagre benefit the company, users and news publishers saw in it.