Posted by Ashton Weis
I have been asked by several non-tweeters, “So, what does it mean when something’s “trending” on Twitter? I just don’t understand what that is or how I use my hash tags.”
This is a difficult question to answer, mostly because the answer isn’t a simple one. When I tweet, I use my hash tags liberally. For me, they have their own stigma and give tweets a topic or a general idea. Often hash tagged words are funny, witty, or clever. Not all Twitter users think of trending topics in the same way.
Creating a hash tag involves quite a process. Mediaite describes it on their website.
Trends can be a world event, a funny saying, spam, supporting a brand or fan-based support for celebrities. Trending topics are created simply by them being used a lot by Tweeters.
In the past, trending topics have been under some scrutiny. Twitter has had to censor some inappropriate trending topics. The trend #thatsafrican raised some big issues about whether or not Twitter should monitor trending topics. Some users were upset that Twitter had removed a trending topic, but others were upset that such a racist topic had been allowed to “trend” in the first place.
Twitter also removed the trending topic: #thingsdarkiessay, because the users caused a stir about it. It was originally started as a joke, but humor can be hard to convey across continents and 140 characters.
But the real question is: should Twitter be in charge of censoring its trending topics? Are they to be the gatekeepers of what people are putting out there? Or should they let people have free reign over what becomes a trending topic?