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Facebook 'Trending' fights fake news on desktop & iPhone, displays trusted publisher & summary

In an effort to fight the fake news epidemic, changes to Facebook's Trending section have now rolled out to all users, adding an original, trusted source of the material and brief summary of the story.

The changes, announced at the end of January, are intended to provide more context to what is trending on Facebook, as well as who provided the original information. The headline and source are selected by Facebook based on engagement around the article on Facebook, the engagement around the publisher overall, and whether other articles are linking to it.

As before, selecting the topic sends the user to a page with multiple links to different sources covering the same story.

Facebook claims that the changes should make trending topics be displayed quicker, make the feature more effective at capturing a wide array of news, and also ensure that trending topics reflect real world events being covered by multiple news outlets and aren't some kind of news item intentionally fraudulent and intended to deceive readers — also known as "fake news."

Topics are automatically selected by an algorithm, but are reviewed by a team to ensure they accurately represent real-world events. Legitimate news is sorted by a variety of factors, according to Facebook, including collating when people report news as fake or spam.

The list is also no longer personalized based on interests, with people in the same region seeing the same topics. Initial AppleInsider testing shows that New York City; Washington D.C.; Burlington, Vt.; Fort Myers, Fla.; San Antonio, Tex; and Erie, Penn. are considered the same region for the Trending category display, at least in the early phases of the U.S.-wide rollout.

On the iPhone app, the Trending stories list is found after hitting the search button.

Apple offers its own News app, and has vowed to do its part to cut down on the spread of misinformation. In an interview last week, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook called fake news "one of today's chief problems," and "not something that has a simple solution."

And earlier this week, Apple's head of internet services Eddy Cue said the company is working on backend solutions to prevent the spread of fake news in the iOS News application.