Facebook fired the team, and since then, algorithms have been largely responsible for governing what goes into the Trending sidebar, which is prominently displayed at the top of the desktop site. The backlash from conservatives led Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg to extend an olive branch, holding a meeting at his company headquarters with more than two dozen conservative figures including Glenn Beck, Dana Perino and Tucker Carlson.
Nonetheless, the dustup prompted inquiries from partisan legislators aghast at the thought of political bias. 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 operational and algorithmic surgery evidently did not have the desired effect.
The section will be removed from Facebook next week, the company said Friday.
Facebook's head of news products, Alex Hardiman, wrote in the announcement that the company is now testing a breaking news label that would put the power of editorial decisions in the hands of news organizations.
Facebook said that "over time people found the product to be less and less useful".
To that end, Facebook is testing several new features, including a breaking news label for news outlets, breaking news notifications, a Today In section and more news coverage in Facebook Watch. "So we're exploring new ways to help people stay informed about timely, breaking news that matters to them, while making sure the news they see on Facebook is from trustworthy and quality sources". These efforts will be funded by Facebook itself, the company said. The changes and features Facebook is putting out, he said, are being treated as "bug fixes" - addressing single problems the way engineers do. Facebook also wants to make local news more prominent.
Breaking News Label: 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.
Another feature, called Today In shows people breaking news in their area from local publishers, officials and organisations.
The company is also funding news videos, created exclusively for Facebook by publishers it would not yet name. The company tried to temper this by removing human reviewers who helped manage trending topics in favor of supposedly unbiased algorithms. The Today In section, which is being piloted in 33 U.S. cities, is driving an average of 8 percent more traffic outbound from Facebook to the publishers themselves.