According to Twitter representatives, the trending list is automatically generated by an algorithm that “attempts to identify topics that are being talked about more right now than they were previously.”
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In other words, the list picks up on spikes of new hot topics -- “novelty over popularity” -- as opposed to topics like WikiLeaks, which are generating a lot of interest, but at a steady, constant level.
The old algorithm was changed by Twitter after Justin Bieber remained a fixture on the trending lists without any sign of dropping off.
Twitter posted a clarification on their policy on their website Wednesday, in light of accusations that the microblogging site was deliberately trying to keep any written variation of the WikiLeaks name off its Top Trends lists.