International news orgs among fastest growing on Facebook

Facebook is looking back at which stories, events and news organizations its users have interacted with the most in 2011. Today the site published a list of fastest growing news organizations, which includes three international news orgs and the Onion, which makes news satire (a fact that eludes some Facebook users).

PBS also made the list. The organization ran a successful “Like Drive” this year, in which it asked users to share a statement of support on their wall and promised to unlock exclusive content from its archives if it reached a daily goal of 1,000 new fans. Also notable is Yahoo News, which not only was the seventh-fastest growing page but also had numerous stories among the most shared this year.

Most shared stories on Facebook

The 10 most shared stories, according to Facebook, provide an interesting case. Two are related to the news (in both cases the earthquake and Tsunami in Japan), but the rest are classic Facebook fare: Viral videos of animals, posts about zodiac signs, a giant crocodile, two parenting posts. Of course, one of the most shared posts on Facebook is about Facebook.

It’s also interesting that all posts came from only four sources: Yahoo News, CNN, The New York Times and The Huffington Post. Here is Facebook’s list:

1. Satellite Photos of Japan, Before and After the Quake and Tsunami (New York Times)
2. What teachers really want to tell parents (CNN)
3. No, your zodiac sign hasn’t changed (CNN)
4. Parents, don’t dress your girls like tramps (CNN)
5. Father Daughter Dance Medley (Yahoo)
6. At funeral, dog mourns the death of Navy SEAL killed in Afghanistan (Yahoo)
7. You’ll freak when you see the new Facebook (CNN)
8. Dog in Japan stays by the side of ailing friend in the rubble (Yahoo)
9. Giant crocodile captured alive in Philippines (Yahoo)
10. New Zodiac Sign Dates: Ophiuchus The 13th Sign? (The Huffington Post)

The most talked about topics, however, closely align with the news of the year. Osama bin Laden’s death tops the list of topics (this was also a huge topic of conversation on Twitter). As opposed to the news pages, the most talked about topics globally heavily tilt toward U.S. news. The verdict in the Casey Anthony trial that had been covered relentlessly by the media (at No, 3), Charlie Sheen’s escapades (No. 4) and Hurricane Irene (No. 10) all show up on the list.

Important news events continue to show up on country-specific lists, which you can find below the global trends. In Germany, Angela Merkel makes the list as the 10th most talked about topic, and the e.coli outbreak comes in at No. 2.

The trends show that Facebook users increasingly turn to the social network not only to message their friends or upload a photo, but to talk about what’s going on in the world. Facebook has become the virtual town square where everyone is talking about the news of the day with their friends.

One question I wasn’t able to answer is whether Facebook analyzed only public status updates for their top trends, of whether those trends include all status updates, made public or only to friends.

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