For the past day or so, the Twitter hashtag #atheistrollcall has been rather active.
For awhile, the tag was trending on Twitter – but not forever.
Shortly after #atheistrollcall left the lists of trending topics, tweets accusing Twitter of blocking #atheistrollcall started rolling in:
Citation needed. Evidence needed. Prove it.
What evidence do we have that Twitter blocked these two hashtags, aside from the fact that they are no longer trending topics even though people keep tweeting them?
Trending topics change, and Twitter calculates whether something trends or not based on the newness of the trend – otherwise, #justinbieber would trend at the top constantly (and it used to, before Twitter changed how they calculate trends)
Twitter addressed this issue on their own blog, stating:
Since Twitter first introduced the Trends feature in the summer of 2008, one frequently asked question has been “Why isn’t X trending?” This question has come up around a variety of subjects, from #justinbieber and #adamlambert to #flotilla, #iranelection and #demo2010.
The answer: Absolutely not. In fact, some of these terms, including #wikileaks and #cablegate, have previously trended either worldwide or in specific locations.
So, from the mouth of the Twitter monkeys themselves: we do not censor or block terms.
They offer an explanation as to why trends drop off:
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
Even if many #atheistrollcall tweets occur, they have to occur in forever increasing volume to remain a trend:
Sometimes, popular terms don’t make the Trends list because the velocity of conversation isn’t increasing quickly enough
Trends come and go. I don’t see any evidence that our trend didn’t come and go just like the rest.
So guys, chill out. Twitter probably isn’t persecuting us.
Update: Also, of course you should go get on Twitter and be counted among the godless on Twitter! Don’t have a Twitter account? Now’s a good time to get one!