Friday February 22, 2019
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Facebook Killing Controversial ‘Trending’ Feature, Breaking News Alerts and More Coming

Facebook kills 'Trending' feature, tests breaking news indicator

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Facebook, video chat
LinkedIn faced probe for Facebook ads targeting 18 mn non-members. Pixabay

Facebook has finally decided to do away with its controversial “Trending” feature to make way for “future news experiences” which may include a breaking news notifications.

“We will remove Trending from Facebook next week and we will also remove products and third-party partner integrations that rely on the Trends API,” Alex Hardiman, Facebook’s Head of News Products said in a statement on Friday.

Facebook introduced the Trending feature in 2014 aiming to help people discover news topics that were popular across the community.

But for this feature that show a collection of headlines, the social networking giant soon faced allegations of political bias.

The headlines were initially selected by human editors and a former contractor on the project claimed that Facebook used this feature to promote liberal causes and suppress conservative issues, NBC News reported.

Facebook later removed the human editors and in its bid to appear neutral put in place an algorithm to decide what would find a place in the Trending section.

However, the algorithm went haywire, at times promoting hoax stories and offensive headlines, including one about a man masturbating with a McDonald’s sandwich, the NBC News report said.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

Facebook said that the feature was only available in five countries and accounted for less than 1.5 per cent of clicks to news publishers on average.

“From research we found that over time people found the product to be less and less useful,” Hardiman said.

“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,” she said.

Facebook said it is running a test in several countries including in India to let publishers put a “breaking news” indicator on their posts in News Feed.

“We’re also testing breaking news notifications,” Hardiman said.

Also Read: Facebook Losing out to YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat Among US Teens

In addition to this, Facebook is also testing a dedicated section 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 organisations.

“We will soon have a dedicated section on Facebook Watch in the US where people can view live coverage, daily news briefings and weekly deep dives that are exclusive to Watch,” Hardiman added.

“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,” she said. (IANS)

Next Story

Facebook Adding New Privacy Control Feature on its Android App

The 'Location Services' setting for iOS also comes with three choices -- Never, While Using and Always -- for when an app could access the precise location of the users

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Facebook
Facebook App on a smartphone device. (VOA)

Facebook is adding a new privacy control feature to its Android app that will allow users to block the app from collecting and saving their background location information.

“We’re introducing a new background location control on Facebook for Android so people can choose if they want us to collect location information when they’re not using the app,” Paul McDonald, Engineering Director, Location Infrastructure, Facebook wrote in a blog-post on Wednesday.

Until now, users using features location like “Nearby Friends” or “Check-in” on Facebook were asked to enable their “Location History” setting.

Enabling the “Location Sharing” feature shared the user location even when the app was not being used, allowing Facebook to store that history.

“With this update, you’ll have a dedicated way to choose whether or not to share your location when you aren’t using the app,” McDonald said.

Facebook
Facebook, social media. Pixabay

Facebook is also updating the “Access Your Information” feature to include an estimate of users’ primary location at the city or postal code level.

“We’re not making any changes to the choices you’ve previously made nor are we collecting any new information as a result of this update,” McDonald added.

This update announcement came just days after Facebook’s security team had used location information to track missing interns and users deemed to be threats, The Verge reported.

Also Read- WHO Claims Measles Epidemic in Madagascar Takes Hundreds Of Lives

For iOS users though the location setting was not such big an issue as Facebook would send an alert to users who chose to turn on the “Location History” feature so that they could check to make sure their settings are right for them.

The ‘Location Services’ setting for iOS also comes with three choices — Never, While Using and Always — for when an app could access the precise location of the users. (IANS)