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Is Twitter Redefining Trending In Response To Pro-WikiLeaks Hacking?

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Twitter seems to be changing the explanation of how their Trending Topics are chosen following the hacking of sites that have given roadblocks to WikiLeaks. Mastercard and Visa were among sites facing serious DDOS attacks yesterday following their involvement with WikiLeaks.

Accusations of censoring of WikiLeaks out of Trending Topics this week has seen the threat of attacks on Twitter from Anonymous - the hacker group claiming responsibility for the DDOS attacks.

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Twitter has been dealing with the Anonymous hacker group all week. They suspended their Twitter account, @Anon_Operation only to have numerous others popup in its place - sort of like the heads of a Hydra.

The controversy about how Twitter Trending Topics is now getting a lot of attention. So how is it done?

If you look at the information in the Twitter Help section, you are told "from news stories to the latest buzz about movies or music, the trending topics reflect what new or newsworthy topics are occupying the most people's attention on Twitter at any one time."

But in a blog post yesterday, Twitter changed that explanation, redefining how it works. "Twitter Trends are automatically generated by an algorithm that attempts to identify topics that are being talked about more right now than they were previously. The Trends list is designed to help people discover the 'most breaking' breaking news from across the world, in real-time. The Trends list captures the hottest emerging topics, not just what's most popular. Put another way, Twitter favors novelty over popularity."

The algorithm is not being shared but from the enormous amount of tweets you can see when searching for WikiLeaks or DDOS or @Anon-Operation, it would appear Twitter is leaving the topic alone.

The Help Section warns against spamming, so perhaps they have labeled the flood of tweet as spam. Or it is their way to circumvent a DDOS attack!

"Besides observing and participating trends, it is also possible to abuse them, but of course, this is against the Twitter Rules. The following behaviors and others like them could cause your account to be filtered from search or even suspended:

  • Adding one or more topic/hashtag to an unrelated tweet in an attempt to gain attention in search.
  • Repeatedly tweeting the same topic/hashtag without adding value to the conversation in an attempt to get the topic trending/trending higher.
  • Tweeting about each trending topic in turn in order to drive traffic to your profile, especially when mixed with advertising.
  • Listing the trending topics in combination with a request to be followed.
  • Tweeting about a trending topic and posting a misleading link to something unrelated.

The most important thing is to make sure your tweets are genuine thoughts or impressions and not just attempts to get attention by inserting yourself into a trend. When you click on the trending topics, we would like you to see real people's ideas and links to further relevant information, not spam and people begging for follows."


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