I’m (was?) a Twitter user. This past week I found it utterly weird that none of the words #wikileaks, #cablegate, #cables, #Assange were actually “trending”. I even tweeted about this 5 days ago. Today, my fears of secret censorship seem to be coming true. It appears that Twitter is censoring all these words, so they don’t appear in the (much-used) Twitter “trends” list. Update 1: A Twitter staffer replied to the blog post saying that their trending algorithm doesn’t always result to the most popular terms. Update 2: More investigation about what might be going on.
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. If Twitter indeed censored Wikileaks from trending, then this is akin to have tried to manipulate public opinion by enabling/disabling the right bits each time, as they see fit, and then serving the result back to us, as something that traditionally was considered “democratically popular”. And who knows how many times this could have happened in the past.
Like Digg.com, Twitter became what it is today because it made its users believe that they’re part of an internet force that embodied democracy on the way information is becoming popular. Therefore, Twitter has no real excuse if it’s censoring trends, because it’s like going against its own roots. I hope that Twitter comes clean and explains the situation. One thing is for sure though, trends were not representative of the Twitter community this past week. Not by a long shot.
That is why Facebook and Twitter are unacceptable for me. No one party should have the power to dictate all the rules and manipulate all communication. I really hope distributed FOSS alternatives catch on (.. well a lot of people are happy with Identi.ca).
PS. I just noticed that I haven’t been on Digg for weeks… Man, the V4 really killed them.