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Posted Dec 06, 2010

Twitter May be Censoring Wikileaks

From the First Rule of Wikileaks: Everyone Tweets About Wikileaks dept.:

Suspicions are arising that Twitter may be hampering wikileaks related tweets from becoming trending topics. Comments in these blogs and replys to @wikileaks regarding the possible censorship show people appear to believe twitter is being nefarious rather than incompetent in accurately measuring the people's voice.

OSNews: "Wikileaks-related terms did not really trend almost at all last week. The only related trend today that currently trends in a few countries is the much less popular #imwikileaks! Pretty suspicious. If this is real censorship, it is much more profoundly unacceptable than just deleting someone's account, because it's not like trying to block that one account, that one voice, but like censoring and manipulating the collective voice.

Now, I'd probably could give them the benefit of the doubt, but seeing how Twitter suspended their own scheduled server maintenance last year in order to not interrupt its users from tweeting on Iran's protests, for me, this is a good indication about how one-sided, and political, their motivations could be in nature. " "I’ve gone back and compared long-term traffic patterns for “Sundays,” one of today’s big global trending topics, with those of “Wikileaks,” and I have to say I’m kind of flabbergasted. If the data I have are accurate, something very very strange is going on.

...This is the last 180 days of Twitter traffic data for “Sundays,” taken from the Trendistic website. We can see that the word peaks every weekend — unsurprisingly — and that it’s grown only slightly in volume since mid-July. With the exception of today’s large spike, the biggest weekend bump for Sundays was only about double the volume of the smallest.

Looking at trending topic data from Twend It, however, we see that Sundays has trended four times in the last two months — on September 26, October 18, November 21-22, and today. The first two of those “trend incidents” took place on completely ordinary days for Sundays (measured by total volume), and the third, which lasted much longer, took place on a weekend when traffic for the phrase spiked over a longer period of time, but no higher, than it had in the past.

Why is this significant? Because, as I wrote this morning, Twitter claims that a phrase’s novelty is a major predictor of whether it’ll trend or not. But “Sundays” is the opposite of novel — it’s a term that spikes once a week, every week, in pretty much the same way at pretty much the same time. By the criterion of novelty, Sundays should be at a huge disadvantage versus hundreds of other terms — including, yes, Wikileaks — in making the trending topics list.

Josh Elman (Twitter engineer - unconfirmed) comment on" 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."

"Below, I have plotted the prevalence of the term #Wikileaks along with the prevalence of the Official Top 5 Trends according to Twitter (#TheWalkingDead, #thingsimiss, #noonelikesyoubecause, #rappersthatmightbehomeless and #Vnezuelan♥Biebs).

chart link

The term #Wikileaks blows the other terms out of the water over the entire course of the day. It’s not like it’s even close. On average, it is nearly 3 times as popular as any of the other terms.

Why then is #Wikileaks not listed as a “Trend” on Twitter."

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