Researchers accuse Twitter of censoring Wikileaks

Twitter may be joining a growing number of companies in attempts to silence Wikileaks, with reports surfacing that the micro-blogging site is censoring Wikileaks hashtags.

Despite the sheer volume of Wikileaks tweets and the number of #Wikileaks hashtags out there, one researcher, Bob Murphy, discovered that the topic was failing to trend, while less talked about topics shot to the top of the trend list.

The top five trend list included #TheWalkingDead, #thingsimiss, #noonelikesyoubecause, #rappersthatmightbehomeless and #Vnezuelan♥Biebs, but analysis using Trendistic showed that all five of these topics did not perform anywhere near #Wikileaks.

In fact, #Wikileaks performed at an average of three times that of the top five terms, and yet it still managed to not make Twitter’s list of trending topics. This has given rise to accusations by several researchers, including Bob Murphy and Angus Johnston, that Twitter is actively censoring Wikileaks to prevent it from trending and therefore getting more coverage.

Twitter has denied this claim. A Twitter employee, Josh Elman, posted a response to Johnston’s fndings, saying: 

“Twitter hasn’t modified trends in any way to help or prevent wikileaks from trending. #cablegate was trending last weekend and various terms around this issue have trended in different regions over the past week. Trends isn’t just about volume of a term but also the diversity of people and tweets about a term and looking for organic volume increases above the norm.”

With so many companies turning on Wikileaks recently, including Amazon and Paypal, it’s no surprise that many people would question the mysterious lack of trending of the #Wikileaks term. 

It’s also not the first time Twitter has been accused of censorship. Back in May when the Israeli flotilla attacks occured, a number of hashtags relating to the incident went offline. Twitter assured TechEye at the time that it was merely a technical issue, but with Wikileaks now falling victim to a similar problem, some people may not be so sure that is really the case.