Facebook is shutting down its ill-fated "trending" news section after four years. The backlash from conservatives led Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg to extend an olive branch, holding a meeting at his company headquarters with more than two dozen conservative figures including Glenn Beck, Dana Perino and Tucker Carlson.
Hardiman said the company is slowly taking steps to shift editorial decisions away from Facebook and toward news organizations. In 2016, Gizmodo reported that Facebook's contract workers often chose not to link to news with a conservative slant.
The operational and algorithmic surgery evidently did not have the desired effect.
"We're exploring new ways to help people stay informed about timely, breaking news that matters to them, while making sure the news they see on Facebook is from trustworthy and quality sources", Alex Hardiman, Facebook's head of news products, said in a blog post.
These new ways include a Breaking News label in the News Feed section for select publishers, a locally focused section that's being tested called Today In, and the addition of news video for USA users of Facebook Watch.
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Facebook said the feature was only available in five countries and accounted for roughly 1.5 percent of the traffic to news publishers' sites.
Facebook said it was experimenting with other news products, including a section called Today In that includes breaking and local news. These efforts will be funded by Facebook itself, the company said.
Finally, the company is betting big on its video platform Facebook Watch, where it plans to host live coverage, daily news briefings, and weekly news recaps that are exclusive to the platform.
In many ways, those issues foreshadowed Facebook's more recent problems with fake news and political balance.
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. The company is also funding news videos, created exclusively for Facebook by outside publishers it would not yet name. The Trending section will be removed for all users by next week.
Hardiman provided some examples of what the site may replace the section with in the near future.