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.
Facebook Trending is still my favorite news source. pic.twitter.com/HFW2RlCs0s— Jack Nicas (@jacknicas) April 15, 2016
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.
I like to imagine the bots who write Facebook trending text take pleasure in their restraint. But I bet not. pic.twitter.com/G3MOjBEt3i— Peter Kafka (@pkafka) March 7, 2016
I give Facebook’s ‘trending’ a lot of grief, so props for reporting on the huge disaster that hit SF last night pic.twitter.com/DwoDoQAZ8P— Casey Newton (@CaseyNewton) February 6, 2016
Facebook's trending topics shouldn't be capitalized because I thought Doctor Who had done something HORRIBLE pic.twitter.com/FdatAkL7xn— Ryan Broderick (@broderick) June 8, 2016
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!
End of an era pic.twitter.com/OIDatGMYph— Eric Scott Johnson™ (@HeyHeyESJ) August 26, 2016
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.
Facebook's top trending news item is a story about how Facebook is destroying news. pic.twitter.com/svSb3vXibc— Samantha Allen (@SLAwrites) June 29, 2016
Pretty crazy day - wonder what's on Facebook's trending topics pic.twitter.com/iv4qzb3pOz— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) December 25, 2015
Facebook’s trending news algorithm really gets to the heart of any story. pic.twitter.com/HfrQUq7VJX— Mikey Neumann (@mikeyface) November 27, 2015
Trending on Facebook:— tc (@chillmage) August 1, 2016
- conspiracies pic.twitter.com/sroXwhyeU9
Facebook Trending Topics is great at notifying me when a celebrity poses topless pic.twitter.com/gIdWlL3eug— Anthony Quintano (@AnthonyQuintano) July 14, 2016
Now trending on Facebook: actress shows photos of herself and her sibling. pic.twitter.com/44AR6NFRpV— Ben Gilbert (@RealBenGilbert) December 31, 2015
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.