Twitter yesterday tried to put an end to rumors that it's blocking WikiLeaks-related terms from its list of trending topics--the most popular phrases appearing at a given time throughout the microblogging service.
The reason why terms like #wikileaks and #cablegate fell off Twitter's trending topics list, according to a post on the official company blog, is simply because not enough people are talking about them.
"Sometimes a topic doesn't break into the Trends list because its popularity isn't as widespread as people believe," the blog post explained. "And, sometimes, popular terms don't make the Trends list because the velocity of conversation isn't increasing quickly enough, relative to the baseline level of conversation happening on an average day; this is what happened with #wikileaks this week."
This may be a testament to the fact that Twitter, with more than 95 million messages posted per day, is no longer the domain of media and politics junkies that it was a few years ago and that the discussion of the controversial WikiLeaks document repository may now be overshadowed on Twitter by other topics--like pop singer Justin Bieber, whom one third-party researcher says is the subject of a full 3 percent of tweets.
A report by Pew Internet Research released today highlighted the service's penetration into the mainstream, estimating that 8 percent of Americans who use the Web also use Twitter.
This week, after Amazon Web Services and PayPal blocked WikiLeaks, speculation arose as to whether social-media outlets like Facebook and Twitter would suppress any information pertaining to the site or its founder, Julian Assange. Facebook said Monday that it did not plan to ban the WikiLeaks "fan page," claiming that at present it does not violate the social network's terms of service.