It’s official — we’re living in a TMZ world.
According to Facebook, this year’s most prominent trending topics are dominated by the deaths and pratfalls of major public figures: the killing of Osama Bin Laden ranked as the most shared subject matter of the year (obviously peaking in May at the time of his death). Steve Jobs’ passing ranked fifth, topped by the drug-fueled antics of Charlie Sheen and Casey Anthony’s trial verdict.
That data is part of Facebook’s annual compilation of all the weird trends, popular topics and awful acronyms that have crawled their way across the social network.
Facebook data team scientists Jonathan Chang and Eytan Bakshy compiled data taken from the 800 million-plus profiles that currently make up the social network’s user base, organizing the most popular topics by subject matter (like actors or TV shows) and the timing of a subject’s popularity peak.
Planking — the strange, flat-bodied phenomenon that circulated the web earlier this year — showed up in a huge way over the summer, then dropped off shortly thereafter. It’s interesting to follow the slight rises and falls in popularity; Chang and Bakshy say the fluctuations correlate with media figures giving topics more or less attention. So when Tom Green and Katy Perry started talking about planking again a few months later, for example, Facebook saw a rise in its figures.
Perhaps the most interesting — or dumb, depending on how you look at it — phenomenon to come of Facebook statuses in 2011 was the rise of two pithy acronyms: “lms” and “tbh” (or “like my status” and “to be honest,” for the laypersons). The former is often used for a quid pro quo — if you “like” someone’s status update — thus spreading it virally, the beneficiary will do something for the “liker.”
“Now [tbh is] often used in conjunction with “lms” to give honest feedback about friends,” Facebook’s blog post says, claiming the “most iconic status update for 2011 was “lms for a tbh.”
Now if only Facebook could give data on how many English teachers rolled their eyes in acronym disgust.