How Trends Are Generated and Manipulated


Trending is a feature that shows you what people are discussing on Twitter. It is based on algorithms that look at who you follow, the location you are in and what is popular at any given time.

This can be anything from the latest pop culture phenomenon to the hottest political controversy. It’s also used for news, whether it’s a natural disaster or a celebrity death. Some trends last a day, some for weeks or even months, depending on how popular it is.

For businesses, trending can be a valuable tool for monitoring and creating content around relevant topics. It can also help you identify what your audience is interested in so you can create content that connects with them. A fashion company could use trends to stay on top of the latest industry movements and tailor their marketing campaigns accordingly. Similarly, a technology company can monitor trending conversations about their products to keep up with consumer demand and make informed decisions about their future direction.

However, it’s important to remember that trends are not an accurate reflection of what is being discussed on Twitter. They are a result of the algorithm and can be easily manipulated. Trending has been known to amplify marginalized voices, including extremists and harassers. In 2013, 4chan users got a hashtag promoting self-harm to trend worldwide, and in recent years a number of racist or otherwise offensive trends have appeared on the list. This type of manipulation undermines the story that Twitter wants to tell about itself as a platform that captures and serves the public conversation.

Twitter has worked to try and fix the problem by adding a layer of context to Trends. For example, the site now allows you to select a location where you want to see trends from, and it also manually overrides certain trends that are clearly objectionable. However, this is just one piece of a complicated puzzle. A major issue is that the algorithms that decide what is trending are often flawed. They tend to favor spikes over gradual growth and ignore the fact that some topics may take a long time to reach peak popularity. For example, if a topic gains momentum in one day but it takes 30 days for that volume to accumulate, it is unlikely to trend.

For this reason, it’s essential for businesses to understand how trends are generated and how they can be manipulated. By understanding these issues, they can take steps to ensure that their content is aligned with the social media platforms’ values and avoid causing any harm.