Today, we’re making some changes to the Trending feature on Facebook that will make the product more automated and will no longer require people to write descriptions for trending topics.
We added Trending to Facebook in 2014, and similar to Search, Trending was designed to help people discover interesting and relevant conversations happening on Facebook, about breaking news and events from around the world.
Our goal is to enable Trending for as many people as possible, which would be hard to do if we relied solely on summarizing topics by hand. A more algorithmically driven process allows us to scale Trending to cover more topics and make it available to more people globally over time. This is something we always hoped to do but we are making these changes sooner given the feedback we got from the Facebook community earlier this year.
Here’s how these changes will work:
Instead of seeing a story description in Trending, you’ll now see a simplified topic — for example, #PhelpsFace or NASA — as well as the number of people talking about that particular topic on Facebook. This is based on the number of original posts that mention the topic and shares of posts about the topic.
To see more about what people are saying about a topic, you can hover over it or click on it. A search results page will include the news sources that are covering it, posts discussing it and an automatically selected original news story with an excerpt pulled directly from the top article itself. As before, articles and posts that appear in search results are surfaced algorithmically, based on a high volume of mentions and a sharp increase in mentions over a short period of time.
Like much of the content you see across Facebook, the list of topics you see is still personalized based on a number of factors, including Pages you’ve liked, your location (e.g., home state sports news), the previous trending topics with which you’ve interacted, and what is trending across Facebook overall.
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. The topic #lunch is talked about during lunchtime every day around the world, but will not be a trending topic. These changes mean that we no longer need to do things like write topic descriptions and short story summaries since we’re relying on an algorithm to pull excerpts directly from news stories. Our team will still strictly follow our guidelines, which have been updated to reflect these changes.
Earlier this year, we shared more information about Trending in response to questions about alleged political bias in the product. We looked into these claims and found no evidence of systematic bias. Still, making these changes to the product allows our team to make fewer individual decisions about topics. Facebook is a platform for all ideas, and we’re committed to maintaining Trending as a way for people to access a breadth of ideas and commentary about a variety of topics.
We’ll continue to listen to feedback from our community and make additional changes needed to provide a valuable Trending experience for the people who use Facebook every day.