Facebook will remove its trending news feature as of next week, according to an announcement on its website.
The feature has been available on Facebook since 2014 and was initially offered to users to help them locate the most popular news stories of the day.
According to the announcement, topics listed in trending only account for 1.5 percent of the clicks sent to publishers’ websites, however that may be of little consolation to publishers experiencing declining visibility owing to a swathe of changes made by the social network over the last few years.
A recent study by SproutSocial indicated Facebook’s average contribution to total website traffic fell from 30.90 percent in 2016 to 18.16 percent in 2017.
In the announcement Facebook also reiterated its objective is to continue to ensure users stay informed through access to what it refers to as “trustworthy and quality sources.”
“Trustworthy” is a subjective term that has been used by Facebook on many occasions over the last few months.
In a Facebook post on 31st January, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg used the terms “broadly trusted” and “high-quality sources” when referring to an update that prioritizes sources that conform to this undefined and subjective standard, while reducing the visibility of sources that don’t.
In an attempt to qualify the terms “high-quality” and “broadly trusted,” Zuckerberg cited the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.
In its latest announcement Facebook also stated it will begin adding video news content to the Watch section of its website. This content will be exclusive to Facebook Watch and will consist of live coverage and daily news briefings.
It appears to be an attempt to adapt to the shifting viewing habits of its users. According to a recent study by Indivigital, video content now accounts for 89 percent of engagements (likes, shares, comments and reactions) received by news organizations on Facebook.
Facebook didn’t provide any further indication on which news organizations will contribute to the new section or whether the content will be created internally by Facebook.
The social network has also been testing a breaking news label since March. The test currently comprises 80 news organizations of Facebook’s choosing from North America, South America, Europe, India and Australia.
The new feature will grant news publishers the opportunity to “label their stories as breaking news on Facebook.” It’s not clear to what extent “breaking news” will affect the visibility of content on Facebook.