The social networking company just announced “Trending,” a feature that will provide users with a short list of hot topics. Users can click on a trending topic, and be taken to a special page that aggregates a bunch of posts from their friends and pages that they like discussing what’s going on.
Unlike Twitter’s trending topics, though, Facebook’s new feature is designed to be personalized. Users will be shown topics based on their interests as well as what everyone else on Facebook is talking about, rather than just focusing on what’s popular in a particular geographic area. In addition, each trending topic comes with a one-sentence description of what’s going on, so that users can get a quick snapshot of why everyone’s talking about it.
That’s a key improvement on Twitter’s trending topics. While Twitter has tried to figure out a way to pull some of the best posts about a topic to the fore whenever someone clicks on a trending phrase, it’s still frequently hard to find context for why everyone is talking about a particular topic. Never mind the fact that once a topic gets big, it’s inevitably co-opted by a host of spammers.
Facebook is clearly looking to compete with Twitter on news. Tweets have traditionally dominated the game when it comes to breaking stories, even as users have also chosen to discuss the events of the day on Facebook.
That seems to be especially true as rumors recently appeared about the company producing a Flipboard-like news reader product called “Paper.” It’s unclear whether this change is related to the rumored news app, or something different entirely.