Meta will test a ‘Trending Topics’ feature on its Threads platform

Meta will test a ‘Trending Topics’ feature on its Threads platform

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Meta Platforms Inc. today announced that it will soon start testing a trending topics feature in the U.S. on its X competitor social network, Threads.

“For those of you who have been calling for a trending feature, we’re rolling out a small test in the U.S. to help you find timely topics people are talking about,” said Instagram’s head Adam Mosseri. “Today’s topics on Threads will be on the search page and in the For You feed.”

These topics will include political content, which might seem confusing given last week, Meta announced that it would limit such content on Instagram and Threads by ensuring it wouldn’t appear in the platforms’ recommended feeds. “Our goal is to preserve the ability for people to choose to interact with political content while respecting each person’s appetite for it,” Mosseri said at the time.

But today, the company said that political content will appear in the Threads trending topic area if enough people have engaged with a certain story. A machine learning algorithm will be employed to see what people are talking about on the platform and how long they’re spending on that topic. The feature will roll out to other countries soon.

This is quite a delicate time to be a social media company, given the upcoming elections in the U.S. and the many other elections the world will see in 2024. Companies may be accused of unfair moderation regarding politics or helping to spread misinformation. Mosseri said in an effort to diminish such activity, “Content specialists will review the topics selected by our AI systems.”

These specialists will ensure the trending content doesn’t violate the company’s Community Guidelines while expunging posts that are deemed “nonsensical or misleading.” Threads’ users will also be given the ability to flag posts they think violate certain guidelines or are plain untruths. Meta said it won’t remove trending topics for any other reason, words that might placate users who believe social media companies hide certain political topics due to bias.

Meta is hoping that by being more relevant to the conversations people are having in what might be a tempestuous year, Threads might catch up to its competitor, X. The network got off to a flying start, accruing 70 million users soon after launching. It still has a way to go to catch up to X, which on average, sees over 500 million monthly active users compared to 130 million monthly active users on Threads.

Photo: Mariia Shalabaieva/Unsplash

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