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Trending was introduced in 2014 but was intensely controversial from the beginning. It said that its trending section accounted for less than 1.5pc of clicks to news articles from Facebook.

A 3D-printed Facebook like button is seen in front of the Facebook logo, in this illustration taken October 25, 2017.

Facebook was accused of suppressing conservative news. Previously, moderators for Facebook made the decisions.

"From research we found that over time people found the product to be less and less useful", Alex Hardiman, head of news products at Facebook, said in post on the social media giant's website.

It aligned with the pledge just a year earlier by Facebook chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, to make Facebook a "personal newspaper" for users. Facebook's news curation process involved curators using something called an "injection tool" to force news into the Trending feed that wasn't naturally trending.

The resulting storm of criticism from conservative media companies and politicians led to the firing of nearly all the human editors and a high-profile meeting between CEO Mark Zuckerberg and several prominent conservative commentators such as Glenn Beck, during which the Facebook co-founder tried to convince the group his platform wasn't biased against them.

Facebook continues to lack transparency on their repeated changes to the way news is delivered to users. "We're also testing breaking news notifications".

The move comes nearly two years after Facebook's Trending topics controversy, where a Gizmodo report claimed that links to "conservative articles" in the "Trending" Topics Section were suppressed.

The relationship between journalism and Facebook has always been fraught. Facebook eventually fired the editors on the trending team, replacing them with an automated process.

Facebook is removing the Trending feature from its platform. The company is also funding news videos, created exclusively for Facebook by outside publishers it would not yet name.

Hardiman said ending the trending section feels like letting a child go.

"A test we're running with 80 publishers across North America, South America, Europe, India and Australia lets publishers put a "breaking news" indicator on their posts in News Feed", Hardiman wrote.

Finally, the company is betting big on its video platform Facebook Watch, where it plans to host live coverage, daily news briefings, and weekly news recaps that are exclusive to the platform.

The California-based social network is also testing a "Today" section dedicated to "breaking and important news" from local publishers, officials and organizations, according to Hardiman.


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