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Instead of starting 2014 out with a bang, Facebook started it out with a major copycat move off of Twitter. Facebook will be adding a section to the top of user pages called Trending, where it will highlight stories and topics that the user is interested in.
Just like on Twitter.
According to the New York Times, Facebook engineering manager Chris Struhar took a couple digs at Twitter’s current trending section, saying the hashtags are cryptic and don’t allow users to get any content about what’s going on.
Here is how Struhar described Trending in a press release:
To the right of your News Feed, you’ll see a list of topics that have recently spiked in popularity. The list is personalized, including topics based on things you’re interested in and what is trending across Facebook overall.
Trending will tailor topics to individuals, instead of by location like Twitter does. This brings us to the question in the headline: Do you trust Facebook to tailor to your interests?
Do you trust the social network with the most questionable (and often despised) algorithm in the social media sphere? The network that punishes memes at random and decides whose posts you want to see for you?
If you’re happy with the direction that Facebook currently takes with its algorithm then you’ll probably enjoy Trending, but if you look at the ads and sponsored content and friend updates and wonder why they’re targeted to you then Trending could quickly become irrelevant.
There have been tons of stories predicting the downfall of Facebook. In fact, just this morning I found yet another article claiming the lack of young people on Facebook will be its demise. Undoubtedly, I’ll find an article later today debunking that theory.
The one argument that actually has a leg to stand on is that Facebook will start to take a turn for the worse because it’s not innovating anymore. People joked that all Mark Zuckerberg was doing was mimicking Twitter at first, but it’s not really funny anymore. In fact, it’s widely accepted as truth. Let’s take a moment to revolutionize Internet conversations before you start throwing stones, Mr. Zuckerberg.
Facebook hasn’t done anything particularly breathtaking in the past year or so. In fact, the most prominent moves have directly copied Twitter. Case in point:
This is the obvious addition to point to. Hashtags were exciting news because Facebook so long to adopt them. Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Vine, Tumblr, Flickr, and Pinterest were all comfortably using hashtags before Facebook. Some figured the site would never adopt them. Eight months later, Facebook hasn’t exactly revolutionized the hashtag world. At this point they’re just kind of there.
I remember the day verified accounts were added to Facebook. Little blue check marks started popping up on random celebrity pages like Leonardo DiCaprio and Lebron James. Like Twitter, the intention was to separate the fan-created pages and celebrity knock-offs with the real people behind them. So when was the last time you read about a celeb getting into trouble because of a Facebook post as opposed to something they posted on Twitter or Instagram?
Embedded Posts also followed Twitter. Actually, they followed most other social networks. Flickr, Instagram and Twitter already had the power to embed. Like the implementation of hashtags, embedded posts made Facebook look like it was simply following the rest of the crowd.
Mashable pointed out that Facebook’s adoption of Twitter tactics wasn’t just a 2013 trend. In 2012, Facebook changed the name Subscribers to Followers to describe public figures and pages of people you want updates from but aren’t friends with.
I’ve been trying to put my feelings aside and write about the Trending bar objectively. However, the cards are stacked against it. It’s a combination of stealing from Twitter and using Facebook’s algorithm – a known weak point. Facebook sees itself as the latest and greatest in breaking news, but that’s really just a delusion. Are you optimistic about it?