In 2016, Gizmodo reported that Facebook's contract workers often chose not to link to news with a conservative slant. It was available only in five countries and accounted for less than 1.5% of clicks to the websites of news publishers. The company continued to modify the section, but Facebook said that over time it became less useful to users. It also proved problematic in ways that hinted at Facebook's later problems with fake news, political balance and the limitations of AI in managing the human world. Indeed, in its announcement, Facebook noted that the way people consume news on Facebook is changing.
Facebook's head of news products, Alex Hardiman, wrote in the announcement that the company is now testing a breaking news label that would put the power of editorial decisions in the hands of news organizations.
Trending Topics was one of those Facebook features that seemed sensible on paper, but in practice turned out to be a major headache for the company. This feature will be available to 80 selected publishers, spread across North and South America, Australia, India, and Europe.
According to Hardiman, Facebook will soon have a dedicated section on Facebook Watch in the USA where people can view live coverage, daily news briefings and weekly features that will be exclusive to Watch. Facebook also ditched human moderators for the section and relied instead on algorithms. But at that time fake news was not a popular term and no foreign country had been accused of trying to influence the United States elections through social media, as Russian Federation would be.
The section, which launched in 2014, was created to help people quickly find interesting topics on Facebook. It fit nicely into CEO Mark Zuckerberg's pledge just a year earlier to make Facebook its users' "personal newspaper". She added that the company is exploring new ways to help people stay informed "while making sure the news they see on Facebook is from trustworthy and quality sources".
Today In: We're testing a dedicated section on Facebook called Today In that connects people to the latest breaking and important news from local publishers in their city, as well as updates from local officials and organizations.
A third feature will soon launch.