Facebook Data Team Reveals Top 15 Trending Words, Phrases in Status Updates

FacebookLogo.jpgThe Facebook Data Team revealed the top 15 trending words and phrases in status updates on the social-networking site for 2009 in a post on the Facebook Blog by data scientist Lars Backstrom.

Before getting to the nitty-gritty, Backstrom described the methodology used to form the list:

Status updates on Facebook help people understand their friends and the people around them—how they’re feeling, what they’re doing and what they’re thinking. In the United States alone, people on Facebook are sharing hundreds of millions of words every day, thousands per second, in status updates. When taken as a whole, these words offer a unique barometer into the issues, world events and thoughts that are connecting people.

To generate the list, we started by looking at how many times each phrase with length from 1-4 words occurred in U.S. Facebook status updates, then we computed the rate at which each phrase occurred in 2009 compared with 2008. Using some data-mining methods detailed here, we analyzed important bursts in activity around words and series of words to find the key trends for the year. All personally identifiable information was removed from the status updates to conduct this analysis, and no one at Facebook read the individual status updates.

Because quite a few words and phrases were related to each other and correlated contextually, we grouped some of them together to form the final list that follows.

Without further ado, the Facebook Memology Top Status Trends of 2009:
1: Facebook applications (includes specific apps such as Farmville, Farm Town and Social Living)
2: FML (slang for “fuck my life”)
3: Swine flu (encompasses flu, swine flu and H1N1)
4: Celebrity deaths (notably Michael Jackson, Patrick Swayze and Billy Mays)
5: Family (including the specific words family, mom, dad, son, daughter and kids)
6: Movies (notably New Moon, Transformers, Star Trek, The Hangover, Paranormal Activity and Harry Potter)
7: Sports (notably Steelers and Yankees)
8: Health care (also includes “No one should have to…,” which led many status updates on the topic)
9: FB (short for Facebook, also includes FB Friends and News Feed)
10: Twitter (also includes RT, for retweet)
11: Years (notably 2008, 2009 and 2010)
12: Lady Gaga (also Gaga and Poker Face)
13: Yard (a surprise entry on the list, which Backstrom could not explain)
14: Religion (notably Easter, Lord and God)
15: I (also includes is)