Facebook has released a list of the most popular US political news stories among its users over the past year. It’s a pretty depressing read if you’re idealistic like me, and wish that more people would listen to the other side more often because we’re all a bunch of dumb humans, anyway. But yeah, the story topics, which were led by Occupy Wall Street and Osama Bin Laden’s death, often took purposefully sensationalistic angles that catered to people with strong, preset opinions.
It could still be that the 155 million US Facebook users out there were having meaningful, reasonable conversations about the articles on their walls and news feeds. Let us hope.
Zooming out from the content, the most striking thing about the list is that it’s almost entirely mainstream media articles getting shared the most, which is like what we saw in the overall top articles list that Facebook had released last month. However disruptive blogs may be, they (we) still haven’t taken over. That is, except for The Huffington Post, which managed to lead all others with ten of the top 40 headlines through its usual formula of left-leaning linkbait.
After that, CNN had seven of the top headlines, MSNBC had six, and Fox had five. The New York Times didn’t even show up (directly, although it did indirectly via a reblog). The Wall Street Journal managed to squeak in at the end with a story at the end. The list is calculated by Facebook using the number of Likes and shares each article received.
The top story on the list is perhaps the best example of a smaller, outside-the-mainstream news source getting widely picked up by Facebook users. The article itself is a ranty response from a member of liberal site Daily Kos to a young conservative who had voiced his disagreement with Occupy Wall Street. The conservative had posted a photo of himself holding a note about how hard he worked, how he didn’t have health insurance, how he wasn’t complaining about it, etc. The Kos response was a personalized version of the progressive canon, that explained how he shouldn’t have to work so hard and stuff. I doubt the young conservative changed his mind as a result….
The next two posts are funny for how little original content they include. The first is the Washington Post’s Wonkblog, which reposted a New York Times data visualization of deficit increases under Bush versus Obama, and added a few lines of commentary about the dramatic effect of the Bush tax cuts. The second isn’t even an article, it’s just a Fox News reader poll that simply asks “Should U.S. Get Involved in Syria?” then provides a few multiple choice answers.
Okay, going through the rest of the list is too painful… “Michelle Obama Dances ‘The Dougie’ & ‘The Running Man’” offers the Huffington Post at the number six spot… “Should the American flag be banned in America?” Fox News rhetorically asks down at number 32… I’m done talking about this. If you want a better source for news than your Facebook friends, I suggest you check out Techmeme’s political aggregator, Memeorandum. Now go have fun looking through all the links yourselves. (And don’t forget to share this article on Facebook so we can try to make the list next year.)
[Pepper spray cop photoshop job via Know Your Meme.]