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Twitter’s “Trending Topics” More Harm Than Good?

twitter trends are failing

Twitter’s banking an awful lot on the assumed success of their search engine, largely powered by the millions of people who tweet. A large part of that mechanism is the Trending Topics list, and it’s failing. In fact, it’s possibly becoming more harm than good.

Trending Topics were purposed with lofty goals of bolstering an already optimistic search engine’s capabilities. Since the trends can be monitored in real-time, they could provide an instant read on the pulse of the internet, for as far as Twitter’s impressive wingspan has coverage. The world had high hopes for the development of Trending Topics not just because of the promise of this immediacy, but early proven successes like the Morgan Hill earthquake that reached San Francisco via tweet faster than its own seismic waves.

Many users are now losing hope. What could possibly be the greatest leap in social networking to date is now inundated with both the malicious and the mischievous. These nefarious characters act both singularly and in groups, intentionally forcing words or phrases onto the Trending Topics list. At a time when users are seeing more spam than content in the average Twitter feed, this ongoing failure of the Trends system (and Twitter’s complete lack of success in combating it, much like the spam) does not bode well for the start-up. These efforts to game the system have an extremely negative effect on Twitter’s Search function as well, since it takes extreme amounts of tweet-flooding to move terms on or off the list.

All this adds up to a system that, to many, simply isn’t worth using. Like a train in motion, the cycle doesn’t show signs of quitting any time soon. Spammers and bored teens are feeding off each other in a daily bid to change the Trends list to suit the fickle will of prankster-masses. As a new word makes the list, it’s immediately picked up by spammers to get their tweets more views, or as Mashable puts it: Spammers are spamming other spammers.

Only one thing is for certain in this mess, and that’s that Twitter has its work cut out for it.

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2 Replies

  1. Twitter is really nice !
    Fresh search in actual things :)

    I tested a search script based on Twitter Search RSS feed and I found nice things.

  2. Something else worth noting about Twitter Trends actually happened this morning. The appearance of the clothing store River Island in this morning’s UK Twitter Trend list led to many people believing that it meant that this UK retailer had gone bankrupt, following the trend of other major retailers who collapsed this week (and also appeared on the Trend list).

    Clicking on the link would tell you that they’re actually just having a sale, but how many people will do that? Just goes to show that popping up in Twitter Trends might not always be great for PR, no matter how you get yourselves there.

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