Why isn't "Snowden" trending on Twitter?

A pastebin dump, purportedly from the Twitter "firehose" feed (the feed of all public tweets), shows a remarkable amount of traffic mentioning NSA whistelblower Edward Snowden. However, "Snowden" isn't trending on Twitter; the anonymous paster suggests shenanigans at play. What do you think?

21 Responses to “Why isn't "Snowden" trending on Twitter?”

  1. peregrinus says:

    “Yes, Mr President, I understand that.  But you wouldn’t want the population to get restless now, would you?”

  2. Jarrod Henry says:

    The zimmerman trial’s starting, the scotus releases were just out, and the dow just dropped 200 points.   

    Also, I just switched my trends off “Tailored Trends” to “US All Cities”, and it showed up a few times.

  3. Steeevyo says:


  4. Marko Raos says:

    Nothing to see here, citizen. Move along.

  5. brandonmwest says:

    Twitter has some logic in place that prevents things from trending multiple times, so that there isn’t a permanent #JustinBieber trend in place. I could be wrong but I am guessing Snowden trended after the leak and that is why it isn’t trending now. No shenanigans in my opinion.

    • Peter says:

       Yeah, I think it’s “people who have mentioned the term that have never mentioned it before” = trending.  Since Snowden was big news, it’s less likely he’ll be big news again, unless you invent a speciality hashtag like #snowdenmissingisthegovernmentinvolved” or something.  Of course, that doesn’t necessarily rule out gov’t tampering to make it even LESS likely, it just provides an explanation for why it might not be happening.

      (I see suggested hashtags appearing in the corner of TV shows nowadays as they air, and wonder why none of them have caught onto this and suggest a different hashtag for each episode: #arrows1e15″ or the like)

    • I believe that logic is based on around change in popularity. Twitter’s algo purportedly measures spikes in traffic along with age. So, if Snowden had already trended or only increased popularity by say, less than one standard deviation, it probably wouldn’t make the cut if other popular items had jumped multiple standard deviations. 

  6. helloworld49 says:

    FWIW, I found ‘Snowden’ trending on Twitter (USA) about 7 hours ago.

  7. Because Twitter trending works on velocity, not volume, as they explained three years ago (and I have to explain every year since then when someone goes “Why isn’t X trending when there’s so many tweets about it?”


    • peregrinus says:

      Ah!  Perhaps we could ask the NSA for all the recent Twitter activity so we can work out the volume figures.

  8. It’s an establishment conspiracy! ‘They’ want to perpetuate the story that Snowden revealed information identifying potentially damaging facts/details that could endanger United States citizens and operatives at home and abroad, when he instead revealed essentially that ‘they are watching you’. This makes Snowden seem to be a vital secrets revealer instead of a conscientious government transparency supporter; the first option being much more evil than  the establishment-countering second option.

    Or it’s not a conspiracy… unless it is.

  9. Therese Hansen says:

    I do some informal rough trend analysis on my own on twitter data (So I can follow it without the filter twitter puts it through  - and without the geo-sorting) and Snowden wasn’t in the last top 20 (20 minute intervals). He has been in some, but not right at the top – check here: http://rouqk.com

  10. jandrese says:

    That’s exactly it.  “Trending” means an uptick in the number of people talking about a subject, but the Snowden stuff has been a hot news item for quite some time now so it’s hard to get even more people talking about him.  I would have expected a bump from the recent plane shenanigans, but maybe not enough to bump him into the top 10 trending, at least not until there is some actual news to report. 

  11. agonist says:

    Twitter seems have a pretty strong streak of independence so I would be surprised if they were colluding with the government to suppress something.

  12. FCF says:

    hmmm – maybe because most twitter users think privacy is dead anyway?

  13. fivetonsflax says:


    As Ian Betteridge pointed out, we seem to have to do this one every coupla years.

  14. DreadPirateZed says:

    Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?

  15. tré says:

    trending this morning in Minneapolis

  16. Raziel Abulafia says:

    #Waldo not #Snowden

  17. If dude like being on the run frlm the united states government for the rest of his life then so be it. He did something that no one else had the balls to do, the American public has a rite to know that their private conversations aren’t private any more. That’s what today’s technology gets us. I thank him for getting the shit out.

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