How Trending Topics Are Decided By Facebook

It seems like a lot of people these days get their news from Facebook.

The news, however, though is determined by whom you follow and what pages you like. It is also based on what the broader Facebook community selects to speak about. These elements when combined together ascertains what would you see on the right side of your News Feed every time you log in.

The way things are shown in your News Feed are put up in the same way by Facebook in your Trending line-up: Algorithms. Few of your personal things are taken into account, like where do you reside and what Pages do you follow. However, mainly it searches for two large things: Topics that are being referred to a lot and topics that receive a dramatic references in mentions.

For it to work, you need to have both. For instance, the total volume of mentions is always high for Kim Kardashian on Facebook; however, that is not a good pointer of whether or not she is part of a trending topic. As an alternative, Facebook looks for a increase in refers that is relevant to the normal gossip around Kim (which includes other celebrities, too). Things that are trending need to be connected to some sort of relevant event and that they cannot just be the most highly referred people or topics.

Also, one should know that what is important to Facebook may necessarily not be important to the New York Times. For e.g. Zac Efron and Jimmy Fallon breaking eggs onto their heads is important for Facebook and not New York Times.

For those who use Twitter, get their news that are “breaking” and not from “trending” news feed on Facebook. Twitter concentrates on breaking news unlike Facebook who are still struggling in this area. In early 2014, Facebook had started its own Newswire service, which currently has just over 100,000 followers, a very small number in comparison to the site’s 1.5 billion users. A breaking news app is currently been worked upon by Facebook, which according to Business Insider, is more like a direct competitor to Twitter.

Especially for advertisers who run a campaign to correspond with a specific trend, the difference between trending and breaking news is an important distinction. All the stories that are trending on Facebook right now may not be happening. It is because people are talking about them right now. That’s why the game of Super Bowl may be trending even after the game is already over. For marketers who try to “join the conversation” on Facebook, it is significant for them to understand why and when it is trending.

Advertisers today want to reach as many people as possible in a short time frame. That’s why TV is still very appealing to advertisers for their ad campaign, because it does not require long narrative description to sell their products and at the same time, it has the power to get lots of eyeballs.

Once a trending topic is identified, an actual human being sitting in Facebook HQ approves it, who also writes a short narrative for the story. What Facebook adds to the trending section cannot be picked by these people, as these are automatically done by the algorithm. The only thing that they get to do is just pick the headline.

Surely, it’s not a perfect system, as you are able to view things to that you least care about or things that look thoroughly absurd. However, one advantage of the system is that you can hide trends that you dislike. So, the next time you see any news that you dislike in your Trending topics, you would know whom to blame…

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Kavita Iyer
Kavita Iyer
An individual, optimist, homemaker, foodie, a die hard cricket fan and most importantly one who believes in Being Human!!!


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