Attack of the Facebook Trending Stories

It's like Facebook, but with fewer faces!


Joanie Ferguson


Published Feb 12, 2014   Updated May 31, 2021, 6:35 pm CDT

Last month Facebook launched a Trending column, taking a cue from Twitter by highlighting the most popular topics being talked about and sending you to the news stories attached to them.

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Originally, the module sat solely in a small right-hand sidebar space of the page, but apparently Facebook is going to give it some prime real estate. Which is to say it’s going to show up smack dab in the middle of your News Feed. So now, among your friends’ statuses, page updates, and suggested posts, you will see trending articles.

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via InsideFacebook

The trending module isn’t necessarily bad; today’s trending pieces include Shirley Temple’s death, Bob Costas’ pink eye, and new music from Conor Oberst. For many users, it could easily have been the first place they heard about these things.

I had to scroll down the main section of my Facebook feed for quite a while to come across a trending topic—five refreshed pages to be exact—and the first one was about a reporter confusing Samuel L. Jackson for Laurence Fishburne. After clicking the module, I was taken to a window full of publications’ and friends’ posts about the L.A. entertainment reporter’s embarrassing mistake confusing the two actors.

The Trending posts are a handy way to see what news people are interested in and what they’re saying about it, but Facebook pulled a fast one sneaking yet another non-friend, non-person into our News Feeds. The News Feed—the original News Feed—is dead and gone. What we have is a worse-looking version of Paper.  

The original News Feed was full of updates from your friends. Now, they’re completely crowded out. And it could be time for Facebook to finally create separate feeds. This used to be the case: You used to be able to see just what photos someone had uploaded, or just people who’d updated their profile pictures. It was a quick way to segment information. So now perhaps it’s time for separation yet again. A way to toggle between one feed for news outlets’ posts, trending news, and then you know… posts from real, actual people. 

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H/T InsideFacebook | Photo via Ambuj Saxena/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: Feb 12, 2014, 3:00 am CST