Facebook today announced that it will remove its "Trending" section from the web and all mobile devices starting next week, in an effort to "make way for future news experiences." Facebook says that its users have found Trending "less and less useful," leading to the closure of the section, which stacks the latest news articles from the day into various categories. On the web, Trending is found on the right toolbar, but in iOS it's a bit more buried in the More tab > Explore > Trending News.
Facebook launched the section in 2014, but it's since only been available in five countries and accounts for "less than 1.5 percent of clicks to news publishers on average." The removal of Trending will also mark the elimination of products and third-party partner integrations that rely on Trends API. The backlash against the Trending box started in 2016 after Gizmodo published a report saying that former Facebook editors who were able to curate headlines, to a degree claimed they “routinely suppressed” conservative stories. That allegations seem tame in light of everything that happened next (the entire platform was co-opted for frequently conservative propaganda), but it led to Facebook firing its editorial team and was in many ways a precursor to some of the rethinking it’s been doing on news distribution.
On top of all that, the Trending box was just bad. It’s been a long-running joke that Facebook runs a day behind Twitter when it comes to news and jokes, and the Trending section rarely helped matters. The system does seem to have gotten faster at picking up stories over time, but it’s still hard to imagine it being the place someone learns about a major story. Facebook says the removal of Trending will “make way” for future news products. It’s not clear if that means it’s planning something else for the side of the News Feed, or if it just means that it’s taking a different approach to distributing news in the first place.