Facebook launches 'Trending' to drive event chat
Facebook is adding a feature in an effort to get users more involved in real-time conversations about events, similar to Twitter's Trending Topics.
Facebook's feature, called "Trending," is part of the company's strategy to tap into broader public conversations about popular topics including TV and sports, rather than just conversations between friends—with more conversation ultimately resulting in more ad revenue.
Trending will give Facebook users the most talked-about topics on the social network at any given moment, personalizing the trending list based on the user's interests, with a quick headline summary.
In the blog post announcing the service, Facebook said an algorithm will highlight topics that have a sharp increase in popularity, allowing people to "find interesting and relevant conversations."
Facebook says that Trending is a response to the volume of public conversations about real-time events on the social network, but ad revenue is undoubtedly there.
The company isn't offering any ad products around Trending now but most likely will, just as Twitter has with "Promoted Trends."
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As part of its push, Facebook has signed a partnership with NBC Sports on Olympics coverage.
For the first time, NBC Olympics' page on Facebook will host video content. It will include the latest news and information about the games, plus polls, photos, trivia and the opportunity to ask questions of NBC commentator and Olympic gold medalist Sarah Hughes. (NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.)
As Facebook takes steps to drive more real-time conversation, there's concern that it's losing its attraction for young users, who may be spending more time on Snapchat, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram (which Facebook owns).
A recent report from iStrategyLabs found that the number of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 on Facebook had fallen 25.3 percent from its 2011 report, while that of users 55 and older had risen 80.4 percent.
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Facebook, which is in a quiet period, said it does not respond to third-party studies but will disclose daily and monthly active user numbers with its next quarterly earnings, on Jan. 29.
The company pointed to statements from CFO David Ebersman and COO Sheryl Sandberg this past fall.
In the third-quarter earnings call , Ebersman said that there had been a slight downturn in its "youngest" teen users in the U.S., while total U.S. teen use remained steady (indicating an uptick among older users in that group).
Sandberg followed up on the stock's drop on that news, saying in an interview with AllThingsD, "I think the reaction to that comment has been blown out of proportion."
—By CNBC's Julia Boorstin. Follow her on Twitter: