Facebook's Year in Review for 2016 isn't just fun and games

Facebook released its list of the most discussed topics for 2016. It ain't pretty.

In November, John Oliver “called it early,” declaring 2016 a truly terrible year. On Thursday, Facebook pretty much backed up that claim, releasing its Year in Review that reveals the most-discussed topics around the world on the social network.

Facebook put together its year in review by ranking the most frequently mentioned topics in Facebook posts between January 1 and November 27. That data was then analyzed (and anonymized) to get a sense of the year’s most discussed issues in 2016.

It probably comes as no surprise that with just a few exceptions, the list includes one controversial and sad topic after another. Topping off the chart is the U.S. Presidential Election. Regardless of which candidate you were pulling for, almost everyone was glad to see this year’s overly long, overly divisive campaign drift into the history books.

Brazil’s politics followed the U.S election as a big topic. This year saw that country wrestle with a recession, a corruption scandal, and the country’s president impeached and removed from office.

Third on the list is Pokémon Go, a small bright spot in 2016’s carnival of unfortunate happenings. The mobile gaming phenomenon saw millions of people walk around outside completely disoriented—mostly due to sudden sunlight exposure.

Following Pokémon Go is the social movement Black Lives Matter, and rounding out the top 5 is the rise of Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, which led to an ongoing violent campaign of extrajudicial killings to curtail drug use and drug dealing in that country.

Getting into the bottom half of the top 10, we see the Olympics, Brexit, and the Super Bowl, followed by the passing of David Bowie and Muhammad Ali in ninth and tenth places. 

The story behind the story: It’s worth noting that people on Facebook were discussing numerous issues of real substance as opposed to the usual fluff you’d expect from social media, but maybe that’s a little too optimistic since fake news played an outsized role in U.S. election discussions on Facebook. One also wonders if Facebook’s top 10 didn’t weed out pop culture topics to make its list a little more consequential. You’d expect to see hot TV shows like Game of Thrones, Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” album release, or the one-two punch of post-December Star Wars: The Force Awakens rants and anticipation for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

In addition to its top 10 topics, Facebook also shared its top Live videos of the year, which included the unforgettable Chewbacca Mom video.

Even if the public year wasn’t so great, your personal life may be worth reminiscing. As per usual, Facebook created a personalized video for all its users with their biggest moments of the year on the social network. If you haven’t seen yours yet, you can check it out at Facebook’s Year in Review 2016 page.

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Ian Paul

PC World (US online)
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