Twitter Trending Topics Are Manipulated

Research has found that almost half of Twitter trending topics are fake and manipulated! The reason why is surprising.

New EPFL research has found that almost half of Twitter trending topics in Turkey are manipulated. It proves that many trends are created by bots due to Twitters susceptible algorithm

twitter trending topics fake
Twitter | Alexander Shatov

 Twitter trending topics are fake

The platform uses hashtag-driven topics to determine what is trending or popular at any given time. Twitter alerts the users to the top words, phrases and topics that are most popular both globally and locally.

Research primarily focused on Turkey, finds that Twitter Trending Topics doesn’t take tweet deletion into account. What this means is that bots or people can push whatever trend they want, delete their tweets but still have their hashtag counted toward trending topics.

One of the researchers, Tuğrulcan Elmas said “We found that 47% of local trends in Turkey and 20% of global trends are fake, created from scratch by bots… Our research is the first to uncover the manipulation of Twitter Trends at this scale.”

trending twitter topics
Twitter Trends | Nathan Dumlao

Risks of Fake twitter trending topics

The fake trending topics have an extensive list of risks.

  • Phishing Apps
  • Gambling Promotions
  • Disinformation
  • Political Slogans
  • Hate Speech
  • Unsolicited Marriage Proposals
  • Promoting Narratives Without Context

The list goes on. Most of the risks relate primarily to fake information and potential violence against vulnerable communities.

Additionally, we see first hand the devastating effects fake Twitter Trending Topics can potentially cause. Cancel culture has taken social media by storm and has brought it to extremes. However, this form of manipulation can lead to distorting the publics view and steer conversations in negative directions.

Now with the information that Twitter Topics are vulnerable to manipulation, it begs the question what happens now? Twitter Trends get a lot of attention, in addition to lot of people relying on them.

Will Twitter Change?

When Twitter was contacted, the company first acknowledged the vulnerability of the Trends algorithm.

Secondly, they declined to make any changes. The problem remains and we will just have to wait and see about spam trends.

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