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R.I.P. Facebook Trending headlines, favorite punching bag of Media Twitter

Writer Shares Thoughts About Discontinuation of Social Networking Website Feature

File Picture:  Special to Washington Times:  22 FEB 1994:  OSCAR DE LA HOYA BATTLES THE SPEED BAG DU

Facebook is giving up on human-written headlines for its Trending Topics sidebar, three months after a Gizmodo report alleged that the site was suppressing conservative news sources.

While this may be a minor cause for celebration for the blogs that went into full Outrage Mode™ after that story, it is terrible news for my Twitter feed. As someone at a media company who follows a lot of journalists, snarkily commented-upon screenshots of Facebook Trending headlines were a periodic source of delight.

As The Verge’s Josh Dzieza previously observed, Facebook’s headlines were often uniquely bland:

Unlike everything else on Facebook, the posts in the Trending tab feel almost designed to thwart your curiosity. ... It’s abstract content, just the names of people and places, followed by a description that’s perfectly precise yet drained of whatever made the item trend in the first place.

And for the sect of journalists who tweet when they should be writing (that is, all of them), mocking someone else’s poorly written headline is greatly preferable to writing your own.

Facebook says it will still use human editors to determine what stories show up in the Trending box, but the headlines will now look like this. Boring!

Human-written Facebook headlines, you’ve given us much joy and deserve a glorious send-off. Here’s the best I can do: A hastily assembled collection of snarky comments from people I follow. Have screenshots that you think belong in this virtual Viking funeral? Tweet them at me.

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