Facebook Says "FML," "Twitter" Is A Top Status Trend In 2009


Facebook has just released its list of top status updates for the year, and they’re pretty interesting. This is a new feature that Facebook plans to release yearly called “Memology,” the study of how memes are spreading on Facebook. Specifically, the Facebook Data Team looked at status updates in the U.S. for this year’s list.

For this list, Facebook grouped together similar items to make it a more comprehensive one. As such, the first item on the list should be a surprise to no one: “Facebook Applications.” The specific words that Facebook grouped together here include Farmville, Farm Town, and Social Living, they note. The fact that Farmville has 72 million month active users who update their statuses with info from the game was probably enough to give Faceboook Applications the top spot.


But below that, things start to get interesting. For example, “FML” is the number two term. As you likely know, this stands for “fuck my life” (or as Facebook puts it, “We’ll leave the “F” open to your interpretation”) and is a popular Internet meme in general for talking about why your life sucks. As you can see in the graph they included, FML usage rose out of nowhere to peak in May, then dipped, then came back in September. Facebook also notes that usage of the term was strong during Mondays and Tuesdays.

“Swine Flu” and “Celebrity Deaths” came in third and fourth place respectively, which isn’t surprising given how much news both created this year. Then things get pretty boring until number 10: “Twitter.”

Technically, Facebook included both the word “Twitter” and “RT” in this trend. There are a few interesting things about this. One, the two are obviously rivals as Facebook has seemingly been taking a lot of product cues from Twitter, and Twitter turned down an acquisition offer from them. Two, “Facebook” did not appear on Twitter’s year-end list, which we found suspicious and still think it may have been filtered out. Three, Facebook still manages to take a swipe as its much smaller rival:

Talk about Twitter took off at the beginning of the year. April showed a peak of activity and momentum, though mentions of the word “Twitter” decreased over the past few months.

There’s been a lot of talk about Twitter’s lack of growth recently, and Facebook is clearly playing that up here.

Update: Facebook continues to be moody about Twitter-talk. As they write to us, “Just had to object to your claim that we were taking a swipe at Twitter.” They continue on, “We also made very clear that the term RT (retweet) had grown to be very common. The mere fact Twitter made the list means it’s become one of the biggest trends of the year—and we openly acknowledged that.

They also link to a post with more charts showing that Twitter talk did in fact decline at the end of the year. We don’t doubt that, but it’s still interesting that much of the blurb is dedicated to pointing out the peak activity and specifically the peak momentum earlier in the year.