Facebook will start showing you trending stories to the right of your News Feed, just under where you're used to seeing notifications about your friends' birthdays and upcoming events. Twitter has been showing trending topics for years, but Facebook's trends promise to be personalized to your interests, so maybe they'll be better?
Not everyone on our staff can see the trending topics just yet, which means the feature is probably rolling out in waves to Facebook's massive audience. The topics for the most part seem pretty general, although in some instances, they do reflect personal interests that might not necessarily hit everyone's feed. When you click on the topic, Facebook takes you to a central landing page with relevant posts and stories.
According to an FAQ that Facebook sent us, trending stories reflect those that have seen a sharp uptick in popularity, rather than just stories that have a lot of volume. In other words, it's likely to reflect something that lots of people are talking abut all at once rather than the slow burn story that's been picking up attention slowly. Companies will not be able to pay for stories to be promoted as trending—the way that they can on Twitter. Of course, Facebook doesn't go as far as to say that you won't be able to pay for trending status ever.
Trending stories isn't a new feature—even if it's new to Facebook. Maybe it'll be better, though.