Trending topics now available on Facebook

Facebook’s News Feed has always been a great place to stalk friends and acquaintances from afar – but now the world’s largest social network is hoping to transform its feed into a destination for news. Facebook is reintroducing Trending Topics, a feature that displays the most viral, popular stories and articles on the site.

The redesigned Trending Topics module is rolling out in the US, UK, Australia, and other select countries initially. It can now be found on the upper right of the News Feed.

trending topics

Stepping onto Twitter’s territory yet again, Facebook is now displaying what the world is talking about on the website. Unlike Twitter, though, Facebook will have a short description of why people are talking about the topic. Ironically, the short summaries are almost like tweets on Facebook.

When you click on a particular topic that catches your fancy, you will be able to check out posts about it that people and pages have shared with you or have posted with settings turned on to public. For example, Michael Schumacher is currently trending on Facebook, owing to the delicate condition he is in post his skiing accident. You will be able to see posts your friends have written about him, posts pages have made and other people too.

The effect is essentially the same as clicking on a hashtag on Facebook. The Twitter connection here is undeniable. Facebook seems intent on going the real-time news way, stepping into Twitter’s comfort zone. In the past, Facebook had tweaked its News Feed algorithm to surface relevant news stories. It also introduced measures like hashtags and verified profiles too. With the trending topics column, Facebook is nearing complete transformation.

Facebook’s obsession with news is also continuing into the New Year, as rumors are rife that the social network is hoping to release a news-aggregation app like Flipboard. The app is supposed to be called Paper and will lay emphasis on news reading with attractive images dotting the pages. This trending topics column may just be setting the stage for Paper.

One other difference between Facebook’s and Twitter’s trending topics are that you cannot purchase sponsored trends on the former like you can on the micro-blogging website, but we’re guessing it’s only a matter of time before you will be able to. If you’re not seeing the trending column yet, you may have to wait a bit since it’s a phased rollout and will reach all users soon.

Twitter, of course, introduced their Trends feature (in the left sidebar) long ago. Twitter’s feature can be adjusted to reflect location or personalized based on the people you follow.

In the never-ending fight to keep cybercitizens’ time and attention, social networks will continue to roll out new features that provide content beyond what their users have originally signed up for. Will you begin using Facebook to not only catch up on your ex, but also the news?


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