June 2 (UPI) — Facebook announced it will remove its trending news topics section because it has become “less and less useful.”
By next week, the social media company said it will remove the section it created four years ago. It was meant to highlight popular conversations, but Facebook said it “accounted for less than 1.5% of clicks to news publishers on average.”
Facebook said it hopes to make room for new ways to inform readers. The company is exploring a few different options to replace the trending topics section.
One would be a breaking news label, which it is testing with 80 publishers across North America, South America, Europe, India and Australia. It would let publishers put a “breaking news” indicator on their posts. Another option would be a section called Today In, which would connect Facebook users with local news.
The company added that it plans to introduce a new section to its Facebook Watch video platform. The section would focus on news coverage through live videos.
“People tell us they want to stay informed about what is happening around them,” the release said. “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.”
Facebook has faced criticism over its handling of fake news posted on the site, especially in light of Russian-linked accounts promoting divisiveness during the 2016 presidential election. The trending-topics section has also faced criticism from conservatives who say that the section has a liberal bias.
In January, Facebook changed its News Feed to prioritize posts from friends and family over publishers and brands.