‘Facebook’s Top Ten’ on Twitter Abruptly Changes

On September 28 2021, a single tweet from the “Facebook’s Top 10” Twitter account became notable not for what it showed, but for what it didn’t:

The account, which was created in July 2020 and is curated by New York Times tech journalist Kevin Roose, publishes daily tweets concerning the sources of “the 10 top-performing link posts by U.S. Facebook pages every day, ranked by total interactions.” On September 28 2021, the list read:

1. Insider
2. CNN
3. CNN
4. Occupy Democrats
5. The New York Times
6. The Onion
7. Peachy Sunday
8. HuffPost
9. NPR
10. Reuters

By itself, the list of outlets was not inherently remarkable. Its sources — CNN, The New York Times, The Onion, and NPR among them — were fairly mundane.

What made the list notable was its deviation from the norm, as seen in previous “Facebook’s Top 10” tweets:

Readers shared the list and speculated that Facebook had “changed the algorithm” due to “bad press” or federal grilling:

Progressive media-centric site Media Matters for America (MMFA) shared a useful GIF image of several days’ tweets from the Facebook’s Top 10 account, and attributed the shake-up to then-recent news developments concerning R. Kelly:

However, the reasons for the switch, whether algorithmically or socially derived, were not immediately clear.

On September 28 2021, the “Facebook’s Top 10” Twitter account shared their daily list — immediately leading to discourse about the sudden absence of hyperpartisan, primarily right-wing commentary. It is true that the list changed fairly dramatically and virtually overnight — but as is often the case, determining what (if anything) happened remained difficult due to Facebook’s ongoing lack of transparency.