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Is Twitter Censoring Wikileaks Trends? 191

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the or-just-sick-of-it dept.
comforteagle writes "There are suspicions coming to the surface this morning that Twitter may be censoring WikiLeaks-related tweets from forming a trending topic. Why is still unclear at this point, as during Iranian protests a short while ago Twitter appeared to be in the fray of helping to spread the word. As of this morning it appears that Twitter may have some explaining to do. One of Twitter's engineers has chimed in over the weekend, but some aren't convinced."
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Is Twitter Censoring Wikileaks Trends?

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Monday December 06, 2010 @10:30AM (#34459396) Journal
    For Wikileaks trending. You can see here [trendistic.com] that Wikileaks was hot on Friday, not Sunday. Google Trends (for Google searches, not Tweets) actually heavily corresponds to this [google.com]. Further more, if you look at Google Trends, you'll note that the recent trending on Friday wasn't even half of what it peaked at during the Afghan war cable release. It might even be less than that edited journalist shooting video. After checking Google trends for Sunday, "wikileaks" wasn't in the top twenty. I'm checking other Twitter harvesting sites for trends and not seeing anything that would indicate that Sunday should have been a huge day for Wikileaks on Twitter.

    By no means conclusive evidence one way or the other though.
    • by Amorymeltzer (1213818) on Monday December 06, 2010 @10:37AM (#34459478)

      The piece specifically talks about comparisons. All of the other idiotic nonsense that did trend didn't compare in level to #wikileaks. The direct link to one of the vastly more interesting ones, imo:

      http://bubbloy.wordpress.com/2010/12/05/twitter-is-censoring-the-discussion-of-wikileaks/ [wordpress.com]

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 06, 2010 @11:24AM (#34460014)

        No, it's just that all you WikiLeaks fanboys refuse to acknowledge the true popularity of #mycatissooocute and #whatihadforbreakfast

      • by GooberToo (74388) on Monday December 06, 2010 @11:40AM (#34460190)

        And if you bother to read the comments posted to the link you provided, not to mention twitter's own response, you'll easily see the only story here is that people are delusional in falsely believing that twitter is censoring anything. Its a fact which google's statistics as well as the sites which the linked article even validate.

        So really the only story here is that people are going out of their way to create a story about the fact there isn't a story to be created. So in short of that, the new story is one of conspiracy which never existed in the first place while trying to hide the fact there never was a story.

      • by Ihmhi (1206036)

        I submitted [slashdot.org] the same story, but included your link as well as the one from Student Activism [studentactivism.net] instead of the submitter's link. (Better to use the source material rather than make the /, posting a summary leading to a summary IMO). (I don't particularly care about getting my name up as the submitter (I've submitted a total of 6 stories ever, only one of which has been approved), but I wish they had used the sources instead.)

        I read over everything in the source pages and honestly it's rather difficult to say wh

      • by horigath (649078) on Monday December 06, 2010 @12:19PM (#34460620) Homepage

        The comparisons on the blog are flawed.

        The main example is that of "Inception" which the author cries trended for an extended period. However the example is almost totally wrong.

        [Inception] managed to trend essentially uninterrupted from August 8 to August 26. During this stretch, the popularity of the phrase generally fell except for a significant spike around August 17th. It seems strange that Twitter’s algorithm would identify something to be trending in the midst of the sustained fall.

        However, the data in fact shows Inception Trending almost uninterrupted from July 13 into early August. By August 8th, when he thinks it is constant, it is becoming less and less regular and by the end of his "essentially uninterrupted" period it is trending less than 50% of the time. On August 26th it was only on the list for a half hour!

        The author then points out that #wikileaks hasn't trended, giving the figures to show that it hasn't showed up since July and August. Then of course, he mentions that #cablegate has in fact been trending since then, but avoids mentioning the full details. Given that Twitter tries to consolidate similar tags it seems pretty reasonable that #cablegate was just selected either automatically or manually as the "face" of the leaks on twitter. It trended on the days when news was exploding and discussion was increasing, rather than decreasing (although the author doesn't say how long these trends lasted and given his total misreading of the previous figures it's easy to suspect that it actually trended longer). That's how it's meant to work.

    • by Suki I (1546431) on Monday December 06, 2010 @10:43AM (#34459558) Homepage Journal
      Good observation. This tempest sounds like a few people, with enough connections to news people, are convinced that the rest of the world *must* be as interested in this topic as they are. With that as their premise, they conclude Twitter is 'cheating.'
      • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Monday December 06, 2010 @11:29AM (#34460048)

        This tempest sounds like a few people, with enough connections to news people, are convinced that the rest of the world *must* be as interested in this topic as they are. With that as their premise, they conclude Twitter is 'cheating.'

        Wishful thinking that people would be more interested in international corruption than, say, the european music awards. [twitter.com]

      • by hitmark (640295)

        the opposite may also be the case, when news people focus intensely on something that the rest of the world could not care anything about (if not for the intense media coverage).

    • by NanoGeek (1951202)
      Who needs conclusive evidence when you have a good conspiracy?
    • How can we tell whether the trending data is accurate? What if the trending was still hot for Sunday in terms of tweets posted, but being suppressed by Twitter in terms of tweets visible?

  • Not the first time (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sockatume (732728) on Monday December 06, 2010 @10:33AM (#34459426)

    I can't recall what it was, but Scienceblogs was atwitter with claims that Twitter was censoring a science/religion/something event that was being discussed. It turns out that (shock) people just weren't talking about it as incredibly frequently as they had been when it started trending.

  • Hanlon's razor (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 06, 2010 @10:33AM (#34459428)
    Maybe the type of persons which like to tweet, are short attention spanned twit which are not interested in complex long running news like wiki leaks, but on what DJ hammer took on breakfast. Thus it not appearing in the trends, as the person concerned with it are a minority. I have only anecdotal evidence for it, but I work in IT, with a high percentage of nerd, and all looked at me with big eye when I mentioned wiki leaks last week, and today they just shrugged. The average sheep DO NOT CARE.
  • by SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) on Monday December 06, 2010 @10:34AM (#34459436) Homepage

    Perhaps that so many people are talking about wikileaks, it has stopped trending. Just like what was required for Justin Bieber.

  • If there is this kind of heavy handed crap going on at companies we are supposed to trust, we all know where to send the evidence. I know that not everyone agrees, but somehow I feel better in the world knowing that Wikileaks is on call, doing its thing.
    • If there is this kind of heavy handed crap going on at companies we are supposed to trust, we all know where to send the evidence. I know that not everyone agrees, but somehow I feel better in the world knowing that Wikileaks is on call, doing its thing.

      You are going to have them thinking you are a Wikileaks supporter. Then their heavy handed tactics will be directed at you.

      No I don't think anyone wants to mess with the government. If you had any idea of just how heavy the tactics are...

      Read the article [nowpublic.com]

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by dissy (172727)

        You are going to have them thinking you are a Wikileaks supporter.

        And it is pretty obvious you are very very against the idea of anyone wanting to support or help wikileaks.

        In the last thread alone, due to the fact you are 'Friend of a Friend', I saw 18 posts from you that I counted that had the exact same content. Pretty much the same content as this post. After the first 5 it became annoying trying to skip so many dupes in a row which was the only reason i noticed.

        It's one thing to warn others of the dangers you might perceive to be true, but it's another for what you

        • by elucido (870205) *

          You are going to have them thinking you are a Wikileaks supporter.

          And it is pretty obvious you are very very against the idea of anyone wanting to support or help wikileaks.

          In the last thread alone, due to the fact you are 'Friend of a Friend', I saw 18 posts from you that I counted that had the exact same content. Pretty much the same content as this post. After the first 5 it became annoying trying to skip so many dupes in a row which was the only reason i noticed.

          It's one thing to warn others of the dangers you might perceive to be true, but it's another for what you have been doing, which is being actively against any wikileaks support.

          You can clearly do as you wish, but I highly suspect your motives of 'just warning others' at this point.

          Wikileaks is run by the maniac man Julian Assange, thats why.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday December 06, 2010 @10:40AM (#34459504) Journal
    Obviously, everybody should just obsessively tweet #heilwhale until the problem resolves itself.

    Extra credit will, naturally, be awarded for terrifying photochops of the failwhale with Chertoff's skull-like face...
  • God dammit (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Monday December 06, 2010 @10:41AM (#34459520)

    This is all so fucked up, we should all go back to basic internet principles. The internet should not be used for anything other than porn.

    • by Tharsman (1364603)
      Wait, it isn't?
  • by teamhasnoi (554944) <teamhasnoi@@@yahoo...com> on Monday December 06, 2010 @10:41AM (#34459522) Homepage Journal
    According to one of the commenters, this may be a result of adjusting the algorithms to git rid of endless "Bieber" related trends.

    At what price Bieber Freedom?

    If a forest of trees fall, but no one can report it, did it really happen?
    • by IBBoard (1128019)

      And did it fall on Bieber? Please say it did. ...

      Actually, it'd need to be a huge tree to take out all of his fans as well, so that we didn't end up with a "oh noes, teh Bieber is dead" flood instead!

    • If a forest of trees fall, but no one can report it, did it really happen?

      That's a silly question, of course it did.

    • I knew that counteracting the Beliebers' spamming was the cause for the revision of the trending topics system, but interesting to see complaining about the TT system coming from someone besides aggrieved popstar fans.
      Yeah, it's somewhat of an annoying black box at any rate.

  • I'm amazed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oldspewey (1303305) on Monday December 06, 2010 @10:41AM (#34459530)

    I am amazed at how many fronts have been opened against wikileaks in the past few weeks. Clearly, there are people who want it crushed, but I can't recall ever seeing the number and variety of attacks against another "thorn in the side" as we're seeing against wikileaks.

    The takeaway lesson: those who try to learn the truth and spread the truth will be destroyed.

    • There will be unlimited fronts opened up against Wikileaks and their supporters. Vigilantes around the world will be involved in shutting Wikileaks down and in stopping the individuals associated with it.

      How did the USA respond after the 911 attacks?

      How do you think the USA will respond after the cyber 911?

      The Cyber Command probably has been waiting for this moment for a while now.

    • Re:I'm amazed (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Blakey Rat (99501) on Monday December 06, 2010 @11:39AM (#34460166)

      God people on Slashdot are paranoid.

      Or maybe... just maybe... not enough people are tweeting about it? Did that extremely simple, common-sense, explanation ever occur to you?

      • Twitter aside, I think my basic point remains [bbc.co.uk]
        • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

          Twitter aside, I think my basic point remains [bbc.co.uk]

          And how many of these other fronts are also paranoid over-reactions? You're invoking numbers here. You can't fall back on the point when the numbers are shown to be in question (granted, the numbers are implied but not stated - which is the kind of emotional slight-of-hand that gets us in to these messes to begin with).

      • by BobMcD (601576)

        God people on Slashdot are paranoid.

        Or maybe... just maybe... not enough people are tweeting about it? Did that extremely simple, common-sense, explanation ever occur to you?

        And yet here you are, in this comment, calling people names. If your position is the more reasonable one, why the passion in your response? Besides, it isn't as if twitter would be the only thing Wikileaks has had to worry about over the last year or so. Or, what, if trends start to appear then Assange would be free to travel to the US again?

        Please just note how by dismissing a single element of what some perceive to be an alarming trend you have DISMISSED THE ENTIRE SITUATION as paranoia.

        To me, it seems

  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Monday December 06, 2010 @10:44AM (#34459568)
    I think they were being censored, but it is hard to tell for certain.

    Anyway, the latest Wikileak states that there is going to be a huge scandal and uproar about the ne
  • No they aren't (Score:5, Informative)

    by JamesP (688957) on Monday December 06, 2010 @10:44AM (#34459572)

    Blame Justin Bieber

    What happened was... all the JB fans were skewing the trending topics by tweeting about him all the time.

    So twitter changed TTs from being a measure of amount to a measure of growth (or derivative)

    And I think wikileaks grew slower, hence no TTs.

    • by BobMcD (601576)

      So your position, if I'm summarizing correctly is:

      Twitter isn't censoring Wikileaks because Twitter is actually just censoring Bieber?

      To me this is still censorship, but perhaps only accidental in the former case.

      • by JamesP (688957)

        No, my point is:

        Twitter trending topics calculation is not influenced by volume of tweets, but by tweet growth rate.

        Hence Wikileaks tweets does not have what it takes to become a TT (that is, high growth rate)

  • What is a target of opportunity?

    The website describes it:

    "This website is devoted to fighting Terrorism and forced integration of Marxist oriented ideals and values into the American mainstream.

    http://www.targetofopportunity.com/ [targetofopportunity.com]

    It's about to get really dirty.
    http://www.nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america [nowpublic.com]

    • by myowntrueself (607117) on Monday December 06, 2010 @11:17AM (#34459938)

      Which 'way of life' is "*THE* American" one?

      The top 2% of the American population that control 90% of the wealth?

      Or the bottom 50% who have zero assets?

      This whole thing is hilarious.

      Its almost as if one can see a prequel of Snowcrash playing out in real life!

      Franchise America will be here soon :) Cognitive dissonance can, in others, be highly entertaining.

    • by Fnkmaster (89084)

      Wow, that is some batshit crazy stuff you just posted. I know there are some bad people in government, but only a true paranoid schizophrenic thinks that there are roving bands of citizens devoted to "swarming" them as a method of government-sponsored harassment using GPS tracking of their cellphones, all with the nefarious goal of convincing the rest of us that said target is crazy.

      Maybe the occam's razor answer is right here - that they *are* crazy, and they mis-perceive normal people going about their l

  • 39-year-old Australian supplied the Metropolitan Police with contact details upon arriving in the UK in October. Police sources confirmed that they have a telephone number for Mr Assange and are fully aware of where he is staying.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/wikileaks-chief-what-will-he-do-next-2148813.html [independent.co.uk]

    I do not understand how he can leak information if the authorities know where he sits? Cannot they use the Echelon or NSA to block or modify his traffic?

  • By this time in Twitter's huge rise, previous services like IM had already spawned several competing networks inspired by the original pioneer. Twitter is even easier to duplicate. How come Twitter still has a monopoly on the service? After a few years of millions of people using it, the "Twitter" protocol should be either standard or have big gateways for other networks of users to all intercommunicate with it.

    I'm surprised Google doesn't offer a competitor, or Yahoo, or Microsoft, or Disney.

  • by the_raptor (652941) on Monday December 06, 2010 @11:45AM (#34460238)

    Seriously. Twitter is a company and will censor shit as all communication/media companies do from time to time. Twitter isn't "the voice of the people" or any shit like that. It is an inane website for mostly inane people to display their inanity in 140 characters and track the other inane peoples reactions. The only thing Twitter added to the systems that came before it was easy mobile access and popularity tracking, and no one actually seems to use the mobile version any more.

    It is killing me that our already dumb society is trying to dumb itself down to thoughts that can fit in 140 characters.

    P.S. Someone should invent a social media symbolic language. I bet you could cover the majority of posts with very few symbols.

    • by MRe_nl (306212)

      : )

    • P.S. Someone should invent a social media symbolic language. I bet you could cover the majority of posts with very few symbols.

      The have. It's called emoticon. And you're right, 95% of all forum conversations can be expressed in emoticon with just two words :) and :(

  • by formfeed (703859) on Monday December 06, 2010 @12:02PM (#34460444)
    Yes, another wikileaks discussion on /.

    And it belongs on /.

    For the last few years, things have been moving into the cloud. Somehow decentralized systems like irc have been replaced with centralized social media platforms. Nice cheap hosting and sharing services with some teeny, tiny clauses in their tos have become widely available.
    Wikileaks is the perfect storm that tests just how much we can trust the life in the cloud.

    Maybe RMS, that guy who looks and talks like Jesus was right all along.

  • by sustik (90111) on Monday December 06, 2010 @12:05PM (#34460464)

    The summary mentions the role of twitter during the Iranian unrest following the election.

    Let me point out the obvious:
    * Twitter is a company based in the US. Iran is a non-friendly regime to the US.
    * If there were a twitter equivalent based in Iran, you can be sure it would have been busy about the cable leaks.

    Got it?
    In general, pretending that the parallel with the Iranian incident has any merit can be thought of as a lame effort at sarcasm at best and to be ignorant/uneducated at worst.

    • by Nidi62 (1525137)
      Wasn't the thing about the Iran incident was that most of the tweets (god, I really hate using that word) about it came from outside Iran? Most of the people inside Iran had bigger concerns like non-uniformed, irregular agents of the Iranian government taking pot-shots at people, mass arrests, kidnappings, and so on. Not to say it didn't help spread awareness of the issue. It was just being utilized outside of where it would have done the most good.
  • Jesus Christ (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kevinNCSU (1531307) on Monday December 06, 2010 @12:15PM (#34460578)
    Twitter's trends are based off growth, not volume. This conspiracy shit is getting ridiculous. If this keeps up we're going to log into slashdot and see a story titled: "Assange orders extra hot Skim Vente Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks but given NON-SKIM MILK INSTEAD in Starbuck/Government conspiracy to SLOWLY KILL HIM!!!`1!"
  • > One of Twitter's engineers has chimed in over the weekend
    This whistle-blower should post the evidence that twitter is censoring wikileaks on wikileaks.

  • As a commenter suggests in the story:

    "A game for Tweetdeck users.

    Start two new columns, one for "wikileaks" one for any of the subjects on twitter's worldwide trend list (there's some guy called Mike Ashley who is top trending on two different versions of his name right now).

    Now, which column is moving fastest?

    That's why nobody believes Twitter isn't censoring."

  • by Beelzebud (1361137) on Monday December 06, 2010 @12:56PM (#34461062)
    Iran proved that.
  • main problem (Score:4, Informative)

    by GregNorc (801858) <gregnorc@NOsPAM.gmail.com> on Monday December 06, 2010 @01:14PM (#34461322)

    Usernames can't be trending topics, and a ton of people use the tag #wikileaks.

I find you lack of faith in the forth dithturbing. - Darse ("Darth") Vader

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