Science and Tech


Facebook's 'Trending' Feature Will Show Popular Topics

The feature will appear to the right of the user's News Feed to highlight a personalized list of popular topics.
Posted at 6:23 PM, Jan 16, 2014

Facebook announced Thursday a new feature the social media company says will make finding popular conversations much, much easier. 

The feature, dubbed Trending, organizes popular topics and stories to the right of your News Feed (without using hashtags). Facebook said on its blog Thursday the list is personalized and includes topics based on a user's interests.

Maybe one of the biggest ways the company attempts to set Trending apart from Twitter's Trending Topics list is through Facebook's accompanying headlines. Not everyone will know who Cristiano Ronaldo is or why he's trending, but with headlines the site seeks to make things clearer for users. (Via FIFA)

Once you click on a headline, Facebook takes you to a separate page of posts from friends or pages where you can see what people are saying about that particular topic. 

The New York Times reports Trending is a part of Facebook's larger goal of becoming a hub of conversation. The writer quotes Facebook's engineering manager, who says: "Our vision for news feed is to become your personal newspaper. ... We want to connect you with all the events in the world that you will want to know about."

But the Times reporter adds that Facebook's experience is built on users privately sharing comments with their network of friends; whereas, Twitter's is built on a very public, very accessible conversation. 

Yet Facebook's new feature relies on public posts. TechCrunch notes that could be a problem: "​The fact is that most people don't post publicly on Facebook and don't have 'Follow' turned on, so what appears in Facebook's Trends isn't actually what's popular with people."

But the feature is still new and has room to improve. A Slate writer says while most people might not think of Facebook as an ideal place to get the news, "Facebook stands a real chance of capturing an ever-growing portion of people who don't consider themselves news junkies. It requires far less effort, from the user's standpoint."

Facebook users in the U.S., U.K., Canada, India and Australia will see Trending show up on their News Feeds within the next two weeks, with availability on mobile devices and in other countries coming soon.