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Posted at 1:24 PM ET, 12/ 6/2010

WikiLeaks left off Twitter trends?

By Melissa Bell


As media coverage storms into week two of the WikiLeaks cables, Twitter has become the de facto megaphone for the company, after it has been removed from its DNS Server and Amazon.

The tweets have been a mixture of announcements, linking to news reviews, criticism of public figures and calls for help. It has been a smart tool for the site to use, to keep up a constant presence as its other sites are shut down. However, the relationship may not be one of mutual admiration.

Though Twitter has not commented whether it will continue to let WikiLeaks stay on its site, some tech watchers think WikiLeaks is preparing for the possibility that Twitter will kick it off the site. It just started following TweetBackUp, an archival company for Tweets. As TechCrunch notes, to use the program, you have to follow TweetBackUp.

WikiLeaks also speculated whether Twitter has kept "WikiLeaks" off its trending topic list. The trending topic list shows the 10 most discussed topics of the day, according to region. For example, at the time of this writing, Don Meredith, the ex-Cowboy quarterback who died Sunday night, is one of the top trending topic as Twitter users share their memories of him.

On Monday morning WikiLeaks asked, "Is Twitter censoring WikiLeaks trend?" and linked to a blog called Safety First. The blog charts the number of time WikiLeaks has been mentioned on the site in the past day, compared with the terms that are mentioned in the list of trending topics. It shows WikiLeaks is mentioned nearly three times as much.

However, a commenter claiming to be Twitter Product Manager Josh Elman responded on the blog Student Activism:

Hi - I work at Twitter on trends and other projects. Twitter hasn't modified trends in any way to help or prevent wikileaks from trending. #cablegate was trending last weekend and various terms around this issue have trended in different regions over the past week. Trends isn't just about volume of a term but also the diversity of people and tweets about a term and looking for organic volume increases above the norm. I hope this helps.

Elman later states firmly that Twitter did nothing to keep WikiLeaks off the trending list, "It's not tuned to show 'here are the specific most discussed things on twitter right now,' but more 'here are the top things on twitter being discussed a lot more than usual right now.'"

Update: Twitter sent an emailed statement:

Twitter is not censoring #wikileaks, #cablegate or other related terms from the Trends list of trending topics.

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.

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.

By Melissa Bell  | December 6, 2010; 1:24 PM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Noah's ark lands in midst of state and church separation debate
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Twitter's Josh Elman said: "It's not tuned to show 'here are the specific most discussed things on twitter right now,' but more 'here are the top things on twitter being discussed a lot more than usual right now.'"

If Twitter isn't able to detect that wikileaks is being discussed more than usual over the last week, then the algorithm is useless and shouldn't be trusted. The next question to answer: Why is Twitter's algorithm so flawed that it can not detect an objective upsurge in wikileaks discussion?

This increase is further substantiated by looking at Google search trends and news coverage. The analysis here is very convincing and Twitter still has not refuted it in a meaningful way:

Posted by: east33rd | December 6, 2010 9:35 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure Wikileaks will add Twitter to its growing list of liars who are irrationally out to silence the Website as it continues on its rampage of espionage and blackmail.

Posted by: michaelmartnez | December 6, 2010 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Wow, what a real ride this has been with WikiLeaks exposing so much stuff. Unbelievable! What if the authorities will manage to stop Julian? Heard he is about to be arrested in UK? I'd think the info he is releasing is growing in intensity as well -

Posted by: ForzaRP | December 7, 2010 3:32 AM | Report abuse

keep in touched

Posted by: julianassanewikileaks | December 13, 2010 1:36 AM | Report abuse

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