Facebook's year in review: Chewbacca Mom laughs at your sadness

Facebook's top trending topics in 2016 could also be labeled "reasons to drink."

Alfred Ng Senior Reporter / CNET News
Alfred Ng was a senior reporter for CNET News. He was raised in Brooklyn and previously worked on the New York Daily News's social media and breaking news teams.
Alfred Ng
3 min read

Chewbacca Mom's laughter took over live videos on Facebook in 2016.

Alfred Ng/CNET

Clocking in at more than 162 million views, Candace Payne, better known as the Chewbacca Mom, could be the happiest person on Facebook in 2016.

Payne's excitement over a voice-changing Wookiee mask was the most viewed live video on Facebook this year. It beat out BuzzFeed's countdown to the 2020 presidential election, CNN's and NBC's election results and this oddly soothing stream of Ted Yoder playing "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" on the hammered dulcimer.

Chewbacca Mom could be the only person still laughing as we collectively groan while reading the social network's 2016 year in review list of most discussed topics:

  1. US presidential election
  2. Brazilian politics
  3. Pokemon Go
  4. Black Lives Matter
  5. Rodrigo Duterte & Philippine presidential election
  6. Olympics
  7. Brexit
  8. Super Bowl
  9. David Bowie
  10. Muhammad Ali

For the second year in a row, the US presidential election was the top subject of discussion for Facebook's 1.8 billion monthly active users. In fact, five out of the 10 most talked about topics on Facebook were related to world politics in 2016, compared to three in 2015 and one in 2014.

The roller coaster US election had many moments for Facebook users to buzz about, from the primary face-off between Donald Trump and a baker's dozen of Republican candidates, to Hillary Clinton's battle with Sen. Bernie Sanders, all the way to Trump winning the White House. Many believe Facebook even played a role in the election's outcome, with fake news dominating feeds on social media. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said phony stories make up only a "very small amount of the content."

The US presidential race wasn't the only political drama being considered by Facebook users. The second most talked about topic was Brazilian politics, as protests erupted during a shaky Summer Olympics and drew the world's attention to the South American country.

Brazil's president, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached in May after months of outrage over political corruption and a failing economy. The political instability proved to be a struggle for the nation as it hosted the Olympics, the sixth most talked about topic on Facebook this year.

The presidential election in the Philippines was also a heavily discussed subject. Rodrigo Duterte, labeled the Philippine Donald Trump, won the presidency on a violent campaign promise to kill drug dealers.

The United Kingdom's controversial vote to leave the European Union, nicknamed Brexit, was another shocking political move in 2016 and the seventh most discussed topic on Facebook this year.

Black Lives Matter was the fourth most discussed topic following the death of Alton Sterling and of Philando Castile at the hands of police officers, among many police shootings of black men in the US. The aftermath of Castile's killing was seen on Facebook Live.

Outside of politics, 2016's trending topics involved the passing of cultural icons, and an iconic game.

David Bowie's and Muhammad Ali's deaths made the top 10 on Facebook, in a sad year in which celebrities like Prince and Arnold Palmer also died.

Despite being released six months into 2016, Pokemon Go exploded in popularity, rising to become the third most talked about topic on Facebook. The mobile augmented reality game captivated anyone with a phone and nostalgia for the '90s. Users were sharing videos and tips across Facebook, and the hype doesn't seem to be dying down.

The game was trending on Wednesday after a rumored leak showed that Pokemon from the Johto region would be in the game's next update. There's no Pokestop in sight.