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Facebook’s automated trending topics are more like Twitter’s—and surprisingly less useful

Facebook users may notice a big change to the social network’s Trending topics sidebar. As the company said in a blog post today, the topics will no longer include descriptions written by humans. Instead, they will be accompanied by automated data about how many users are posting about a topic. This is similar to how Twitter’s trending sidebar appears, but somehow it feels less useful on Facebook. 

Granted, many of its pre-written descriptions were laughably bland, often including phrases like “report says,” but they offered important news context. Funny, I didn’t think I’d miss them, but I do. With the new change, if you want to see additional information about a topic (on desktop), you have to hover over it or click on it—an extra step at a time when our brains are increasingly taxed by decisions. And instead of a pre-written description you get snippets from other sources.     

Facebook pointed out that humans will still be involved with the curation process for quality-control purposes. The company faced a groundswell of criticism earlier this year after a Gizmodo report implicated that its curators were suppressing conservative news, something Facebook denied. 

[Photo: Facebook screenshot]CZ