Facebook’s “Trending Topics” Will Now Be The Same For Everyone Nearby, List Story’s Publisher

In an effort to deal with its unwieldy fake news problem, Facebook is tweaking its “Trending Topics” algorithm: instead of stories dynamically populating individual users’ feeds based on their interests, everyone in the same geographical area will see the same news items.

The change is effect as of today Facebook said in a blog post.

“This is designed to help make sure people don’t miss important topics being discussed on Facebook that might not show up in their News Feed,” the company said.

Other changes include a publisher headline that will appear now beneath the name of each trending topic so users know where that news is coming from, and an “improved system to determine what is trending.”

Previously, topics might have trended due to high engagement on a single post or article, but with the update, Facebook will look at the number of publishers that are posting articles about the same topic, and the engagement around those articles.

“This should surface trending topics quicker, be more effective at capturing a broader range of news and events from around the world and also help ensure that trending topics reflect real world events being covered by multiple news outlets,” Facebook says.

Facebook found itself in hot water earlier this year when it was reported that the human editors curating the site’s trending news stories may have been injecting their personal political biases into their work. Amid that criticism and Facebook’s growing prominence as the primary online news source for a vast number of users, the company shifted to an automated method of curation, creating a system that has reportedly been easily gamed by creators of deliberately inflammatory fake news.

Because of that, the social media giant announced in December that it would be testing a handful of new ways to address hoax stories and fake news sites, including letting users flag stories as “Disputed.”

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