Friday November 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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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

FB, Instagram on Google Play Store Vulnerable: Check Point

The revelations come amid a snooping controversy that hit WhatsApp after Israeli spyware Pegasus exploited vulnerability in the messaging platform, affecting 1,400 select users globally, including over 100 in India

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Facebook, Messenger and Instagram apps are displayed on an iPhone, March 13, 2019, in New York. VOA

Check Point Research on Thursday said it found the latest versions of some of the most famous apps in the world on Google’s Play Store, including Facebook and Instagram, to have vulnerabilities that were believed to have been patched earlier.

The research shows that threat actors can still execute code on the latest versions of mobile applications on Play Store, despite the updates those mobile apps have pushed to people.

In short, threat actors can gain administrative control over the mobile applications studied by Check Point Research.

Theoretically, hackers can steal and alter posts on Facebook, extract location data from Instagram and read SMS messages in WeChat, said the research.

In a month-long study, Check Point Research cross-examined the latest versions of these high-profile mobile for three known remote control execution (RCE) vulnerabilities dating from 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Each vulnerability was assigned two signatures. Then, Check Point Research ran its static engine to examine hundreds of mobile applications in Google’s Play Store to see if old, vulnerable code was present in the latest version of the application.

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An iPhone displays the app for Facebook in New Orleans, Aug. 11, 2019. VOA

Check Point Research found vulnerable code, which was claimed to patched, present in the latest versions of popular mobile application.

For now, Check Point urges people to install an antivirus-app that monitors vulnerable apps on the phone.

“Mobile app stores and security researchers do proactively scan apps for malware patterns, but devote less attention to long-known critical vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, this means there’s not much the end user can do to keep his mobile device fully secure,” said the research.

Also Read: Google Announces to Pay $1 Million for Finding Bugs in Pixel Phones

Check Point Research said it informed the applications as well as Google about the vulnerabilities.

The revelations come amid a snooping controversy that hit WhatsApp after Israeli spyware Pegasus exploited vulnerability in the messaging platform, affecting 1,400 select users globally, including over 100 in India. (IANS)