Facebook is about to put an end to the trending articles section on its homepage. This comes as the social media giant prepares to ‘relaunch’ it’s active news component to be more forgiving on its algorithm and to reduce the impact that machine learning mistakes can make on the overall user experience.
Facebook already started this process a while ago. Originally, trending articles editing was the responsibility of a team of humans, whose work was complemented by still-developing algorithms. The removal of the human element led to problems, including fake news articles achieving trending status, advertorials being promoted by the algorithm, and inconsequential news being prioritised due to regional popularity.
Apparently, Facebook will use the regional issue as the foundation of its new system. The problem previously was that locations with a disproportionate population base could send an article that only had local relevance into the stratosphere of trending articles. As a result, smaller populations with relevant news found that their trending topics were deemed to be inconsequential due to the lack of sophistication in the algorithm. Although this problem has since been rectified, it presented Facebook with a potential solution – focus on local and regional trending topics first and allow international popularity to dictate the remaining articles.
Reports say that Facebook will allow limited news networks to be involved in the popularity of politically neutral stories.
All of this seems to be Facebook realising that it is not a media network and will never be “go to” site for news. However, the fact that Facebook still has aspirations of local relevance is gratifying, and says a lot about the maturity of the business; understanding the individual, and prioritising them ahead of any global ambitions. It’s a return to the experience on the homepage and will be welcomed by many.