Facebook Rolling Out Trending Topics Feature to Compete With Twitter

Friday, 17 Jan 2014 11:23 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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In a move that has some accusing Facebook of copying Twitter, the social media giant is adding a trending topics service so its 1.2 billion users can see what subjects are being discussed the most.

In the coming weeks, Facebook users in the United States, England, India, Canada, and Australia will be able to use the trending topics service on the right side of their pages, The Associated Press reported. Facebook said it plans on introducing the service in more countries over time.

The social media company also said that it is testing a Facebook trending topics app for smartphones and digital tablets.

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"Facebook is a space where people from all over the world gather every day to share their thoughts and participate in real-time conversations, from the highlights of the Golden Globes to the passing of Nelson Mandela," Facebook engineering manager Chris Struhar said in a statement. "Today we're announcing Trending, a new product that's designed to surface interesting and relevant conversations in order to help you discover the best content from all across Facebook."

Struhar said that one of the things that makes Facebook's trending topics unique is that it will be personalized, based on the user's interests along with what is trending across Facebook.

"To the right of your News Feed, you'll see a list of topics that have recently spiked in popularity," Struhar said in the statement. "Each topic is accompanied by a headline that briefly explains why it is trending. You can click on any headline to see the most interesting posts from your friends or Pages that are talking about that particular topic."

TechCrunch's Josh Costine said the Facebook trending sections will have positives and negatives as compared to Twitter.

"The explanations make Facebook's 'Trending' section a bit busier than Twitter's simple list, but could also make it more immediately accessible," Costine wrote in a column this week. "Sometimes it's tough to tell what a Twitter Trending Topic means or why its popular, such as today’s '#SuperDraft,' which refers to the Major League Soccer player draft. That leads to clumsy digging through the hashtag’s tweets, or a web search for the term."

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