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article imageFacebook tweaks Trending to help you find new stories quicker

By James Walker     May 25, 2017 in Technology
Facebook has announced it's expanding the search results page for its Trending feature on mobile devices to include more alternative viewpoints on major stories. The company is also improving the visibility of Trending to help you quickly access the news.
The changes were announced in an official news post yesterday. They're part of Facebook's ongoing battle to lift users out of the filter bubble, a phenomenon that’s helping to enable the distribution of fake news from unreliable sources.
Previously, clicking a trending article in the News Feed opened the link and displayed related posts with coverage of the topic. The new version takes this up a stage, showcasing several articles related to the events from a variety of publishers. Tapping on a trending story will open a new carousel that lets you swipe through article cards to see views from across the web.
Facebook hasn't changed the way in which trending stories are identified and ranked. The company stressed that any online publication could appear in Trending. There is no defined list of publications to exclude or unduly emphasise. Facebook has only made alternative viewpoints more obvious to alert people to their presence.
The order that stories will appear in the carousel is based on the same factors as the ranking of the headline itself. A combination of the engagement with the article by Facebook users, the publisher's overall ranking and the number of third-party articles linking to the story is used as the primary signal.
Facebook Trending update 24-05-2017: Left  the new search results on mobile  Right  the under-develo...
Facebook Trending update 24-05-2017: Left, the new search results on mobile, Right, the under-development Trending News Feed panel
In an additional revision of Trending, Facebook has made the feed's presence more obvious on mobile devices by creating a new panel that appears in the News Feed. The "Trending News" unit displays the top three headlines from a variety of sources. You can tap a headline to see its Trending carousel or press "See All" to jump straight to the full list of trends.
This feature has been developed in response to user feedback that trending stories can be hard to find on Facebook mobile. Previously, the feed has been buried beneath the News Feed and the app's other main sections. This contrasts with rival social networks like Twitter that make Trends an important part of their platform.
The News Feed panel will launch to a limited test audience soon. Facebook is currently staying quiet on when or if it will expand to all mobile users.
"While most people will not see Trending in their News Feed as part of this small test, we hope that it will help us learn how to make Trending as useful and informative for people as possible," said Facebook. "If you do see the Trending unit in your News Feed, you have the option to remove it in the drop-down menu which will prevent it from being shown to you in the future."
The new features should make it easier to find meaningful and accurate content on Facebook. Trends will be emphasised in the mobile app and it'll be easier to find different interpretations of complex stories. Publishers will have a greater chance of getting their voice heard and users may be lifted out of the filter bubble to better understand the wider context of the news. The new trending results page is available from today to U.S. iPhone users. It'll expand to include Android and web users "soon."
More about Facebook, Trending, Social media, filter bubble, News
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