- Facebook is rolling out three updates to Trending, a feature appearing in the News Feed, that highlights popular topics on the platform, the company said in a blog post. They will be available to everyone in the U.S. in the coming weeks.
- A new system for determining what is trending takes the focus off single posts or articles that are creating high engagement levels. Instead, Facebook will now take into account how many publishers are posting articles about a specific topic and the level of engagement around them.
- The Trending section will also add a publisher’s headline below each topic name, replacing a tally of how many people are talking about a topic that previously appeared in this spot. Finally, topics will no longer be personalized, but everyone in the same region will now be able to see the same topics.
The Trending revamp pivots Facebook, at least in part, away from being a place where users find out what other users are talking about and toward being a potentially more reliable source of news. With the update, Facebook said it is hoping to “ensure that trending topics reflect real world events being covered by multiple news outlets.”
The major digital platforms are racing to prove to users, publishers and advertisers that they can improve the quality of their content, pushing back against fake news, incendiary content and click bait. Along these lines, Facebook has taken a number of steps over the past few months to enhance the quality of content.
In its latest attempt, Facebook is banking that users will welcome the shift, given the brouhaha around fake news. However, the change is a notable step away from the “social” aspect of social media, as content will skew more heavily towards established media sources. This shift raises that possibility that users, coming to Facebook for a little escapism and engaging in the lighter fare of the day, could react negatively.
Many marketers with a presence on Facebook are increasingly wary of having their brand associated with low-quality content, so they are likely to welcome the change. However, they are also likely to closely watch how the changes are received to make sure engagement levels do not drop.
The post-click experience for Trending remains the same, with users taken to a personalized results page after clicking on a topic. Here, they will find additional sources and posts about a topic.