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Facebook’s “Trending Topics” and the art of conversation

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Given the importance of quality conversation and interpersonal connection to building and maintaining lasting prospect and client relationships, it may help to know how Facebook, the social media platform where 1.09 billion daily users are exposed to real-time “Trending Topics,” selects what stories to boost around our pop culture water cooler.

In response to mounting speculation that political agendas may drive the selection of Facebook’s “Trending Topics,” which is essentially a rolling list of headlines on the left side of each user’s home page, the company on Thursday  posted a blog in which it refuted the claim and provided details about the topic selection process. News outlets including Gizmodo, The Associated Press and The Guardian have recently taken interest in Facebook’s “Trending Topics” feature.

“At its core, Trending Topics is designed to help people discover major events and meaningful conversations,” said the blog posted by Justin Osofsky, Facebook’s vice president of global operations. “Topics that are eligible to appear in the product are surfaced by our algorithms, not people. This product also has a team of people who play an important role in making sure that what appears in Trending Topics is high-quality and useful.”

Osofsky denied that the “Trending Topics” column is a place for political propaganda or an ideological soapbox.

“One of the most powerful ways people connect,” Osofsky writes, “is around major events.”

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