Facebook will be replacing its Trending column with something better.
To see something “trending” on social media can cause a user to stumble for a moment. Is it another school shooting? Another celebrity passing? Another criminal act or accusation? Simply seeing a name or location in the trending column doesn’t provide much more information than this: a lot of people are talking about it.
But one platform will stop showing users these geographic- and interest-based topics. Facebook announced that it is halting its Trending column, which it first launched in 2014, and replace it with other, better news options.
So what will we see instead?
One such option is the Breaking News widget which will allow news publishers to alert the public that a story is a hot topic; this might seem like just another word for trending, but it will be the content creators who decide it’s “breaking,” rather than users (and potentially, bots) who simply share posts about it. More than eighty publishers worldwide will contribute, including, to be sure, numerous Conservative outlets following the aftermath of founder Mark Zuckerberg’s recent field trip to testify before Congress about the “slanted” nature of posts that Facebook spreads.
The Facebook Watch section will also get some updating, as the platform begins to deliver live news coverage of events. While some of this content will be the expected live coverage of an important or breaking event, others will be more scheduled, live daily news briefings.
The third feature may have people a little less thrilled. The new “Today In” feature will deliver headlines to users based on their geographic location in an effort to make local news as relevant as top headlines. However, a number of people have expressed privacy concerns in light of recent news about Facebook’s long-time data sharing slip-ups, and having one more reason to track a person through their profile information or smartphone location settings might not sit too well with some users.
Will this make Facebook users stick around?
This announcement comes at a time when Facebook is coming under intense backlash from users for spreading their data far and wide. This week, reports surfaced that Facebook has even been selling user data and platform inner workings to foreign companies for the purpose of designing more targeted user experiences. This has caused a small but growing exodus from the platform as users close their accounts in protest of yet more perceived invasions of privacy.