Facebook removes story descriptions for Trending Topics & replaces with number of mentions

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Facebook is changing up the way it displays Trending Topics, removing the story descriptions that were previously listed beside topics, and now only showing a “simplified” topic and its number of mentions.

An announcement posted on Facebook’s newsroom website included the following image to highlight the changes being made to Trending Topics, showing the previous box with short story descriptions and the new layout that lists the topic and number of mentions it has generated.

Facebook Trending Topic changes

Facebook says the mentions reflect, “…the number of original posts that mention the topic and shares of posts about the topic.”

According to Facebook, Trending Topics continue to be based on a user’s activity – page likes, location, and the previous trending topics the user interacted with, along with whatever is trending overall – but, the Trending Topics product does still include a human element.

“There are still people involved in this process to ensure that the topics that appear in Trending remain high-quality — for example, confirming that a topic is tied to a current news event in the real world,” says Facebook, noting that the new changes mean there is no longer a need for the team to write topic descriptions or story summaries for trending topics.

Now, the site will rely on an algorithm to pull excerpts directly from news stories that will be displayed when a user hovers over the Trending Topic or clicks on it.

Facebook Trending Topics story display

Facebook says a search results page for a trending topic will include the news sources that are covering it and posts discussing the topic, along with, “…an automatically selected original news story with an excerpt pulled directly from the top article itself” – all of which are delivered algorithmically based on number of mentions and increase in mentions over a short period of time.

Earlier this year, Facebook was accused of manipulating Trending Topics to be politically biased – an allegation Facebook says was untrue: “We looked into these claims and found no evidence of systematic bias.”

While Facebook says its Trending Topics were not manipulated, the social network says it has decided to make changes to its Trending Topics product earlier than planned based on feedback received from the Facebook community.




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