Trending Topics was launched in 2014 to surface the major conversations happening on Facebook.
Trending Topics is still a relatively limited part of the Facebook experience — appearing on the right hand side on desktop as well as when you tap on the Search box in the mobile app, and primarily for people using Facebook in English (there are limited tests being run in Spanish and Portuguese).
The Trending Topics team is governed by a set of guidelines meant to ensure a high-quality product, consistent with Facebook’s deep commitment to being a platform for people of all viewpoints.
Here is an overview of how Trending Topics works:
Surfaced by algorithm
Potential Trending Topics are first surfaced by an algorithm that identifies topics that have recently spiked in popularity on Facebook (in other words, ones that have a high volume of mentions and a sharp increase in mentions over a short period of time). The Trending Topics algorithm also uses an external RSS website crawler to identify breaking events so that we can connect people to conversations on Facebook about newsworthy events as quickly as possible. A list of included websites is available here.
Reviewed by the Trending Topics team
Members of the Trending team look at potential Trending Topics as they are surfaced by the algorithm and do the following:
- Confirm that the topic is tied to a current news event in the real world (for example, the topic “#lunch” is talked about during lunch every day around the world, but will not be a trending topic).
- Write a topic description with information that is corroborated by reporting from at least three of a list of more than a thousand media outlets. A list of these media outlets is available here.
- Apply a category label to the topic (e.g. sports, science) to help with personalized ranking and to enable suggestions grouped by category for the various tabs on the desktop version.
- Check to see whether the topic is national or global breaking news that is being covered by most or all of ten major media outlets— and if it is, the topic is given an importance level that may make the topic more likely to be seen. A list of these outlets is available in the guidelines.
The list of Trending Topics is then personalized for each user via an algorithm that relies on a number of factors, including the importance of the topic, Pages a person has liked, location (e.g.. home state sports news), feedback provided by the user about previous Trending Topics and what’s trending across Facebook overall. Not everyone sees the same topics at the same time.
The Trending search results page
When you click on a Trending Topic, you are taken to a search results page that includes all the news sources and posts that are covering the topic. The articles and posts that appear here are also surfaced algorithmically.
Trending is also integrated into Facebook Search so you can search for any Trending topic that may not show up in your Trending suggestions.