Rumors began bubbling recently that Twitter has been censoring WikiLeaks' trending topics #wikileaks, #cablegate, and other similar hashtags. We've seen this before. It seems whenever a controversial subject arises--the Israeli raid of the flotilla, for instance--the micro-blogging company is accused of playing some role in altering the trends.
Twitter has told Fast Company several times that it does "not editorialize" its trending topics, and today, the company tried to splash water on this fire once and for all.
"Twitter is not censoring #wikileaks, #cablegate, or other related terms from the Trends list of trending topics," said Twitter rep Matt Graves in a statement Monday. "Our Trends list is designed to help people discover the ‘most breaking’ breaking news from across the world, in real-time. The list is generated by an algorithm that identifies topics that are being talked about more right now than they were previously."
Still, Twitter's algorithm explanation hasn't satisfy some, who felt blaming the issue on the company's algorithm was more of an excuse rather than a comprehensive answer to why #WikiLeaks had disappeared from the tweet-o-sphere.
So, Twitter expanded its answer today:
"There’s a number of factors that may come into play when seemingly popular terms don’t make the Trends list. Sometimes topics that are popular don’t break into the Trends list because the current velocity of conversation (volume of Tweets at a given moment) isn’t greater than in previous hours and days. Sometimes topics that are genuinely popular simply aren’t widespread enough to make the list of top Trends. And, on occasion, topics just aren't as popular as people believe."
Yes, it's difficult to believe Justin Bieber is just that much more popular than WikiLeaks. But Twitter has been forthright: It does not editorialize.
Perhaps its algorithm needs tweaking. Or, better yet, perhaps Julian Assange should just take some hairstyle tips from Bieber's luscious, mouse brown shag.