Facebook Overhauls Trending and Will Now Show the Same Topics to Everyone
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In a Wednesday blog post, the social network said that everyone will now see the same stories in the Trending section, regardless of location. Facebook is making this change "to help make sure people don't miss important topics being discussed on Facebook that might not show up in their News Feed," VP of Product Management Will Cathcart wrote.
Facebook is also rolling out "an improved system to determine what is trending," Cathcart wrote. And finally, trending topics will now feature a publisher headline below each category.
The company's algorithms will determine what's trending by looking at the number of publishers that are posting articles on Facebook about the same topic and engagement around that group of articles. In the past, topics might have trended due to high engagement around a single post or article.
This new method "should 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," Cathcart wrote.
For the uninitiated, Facebook's Trending section shows you popular topics being discussed on the service. In the latest version, you'll see a news headline under the name of the topic to give you more insight about why it's trending, a highly requested feature.
"The headline that appears is automatically selected based on a combination of factors including the engagement around the article on Facebook, the engagement around the publisher overall and whether other articles are linking to it," Cathcart wrote. Previously, Facebook used the space under each topic to display the number of people talking about it.
Like before, you can click on any of the topics to see additional sources and posts about it.
The changes are rolling out now and should reach everyone in the U.S. in the "coming weeks," Cathcart wrote.
Initially, Facebook had a team of human curators who selected topics that appeared in the Trending box. Amidst reports that the team favored liberal news outlets and supressed conservative voices, Facebook in August ditched human editors for algorithms. But that created another problem: fake news. The social network has pledged to crack down on that, too, with reporting tools it rolled out in December.