Users of Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR)’s network in the U.K. were met with a flood of suggestive trending topics and hashtags when they woke up Friday morning. No, it wasn’t because suddenly Londoners became more interested in risqué topics. It was all thanks to spammers who flooded Twitter’s U.K. site with them.
Sexy topics take the lead on Twitter
According to The Guardian, some of the suggestive trending hashtags in the U.K. on Friday were #escort, #adultprofile and #massage. Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) has said in the past that it edits certain types of hashtags. As a result of the spam attack, which was carried out by spammers who manipulated Twitter’s algorithm, many users in London complained.
However, Twitter’s policy for editing hashtags covers topics of a violent nature, like #reasons…beat…girlfriend, or those with obscenities in them. Sexual topics though, are apparently left intact. Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) CEO Dick Costello said via his Twitter account that he would like his company to add hashtags which are “clearly offensive” to the list of those they edit.
How Twitter’s algorithm works
The algorithm used by Twitter basically generates the list of trending topics based on what users are tweeting more about currently than they did previously. The social network takes into account how many users are tweeting about a topic, as well as the number of tweets on the topic.
The reason spammers were able to manipulate the algorithm was by creating new accounts and then causing them to tweet the suggestive hashtags multiple times in a short period of time. The hashtags already mentioned were trending at least four hours on Twitter’s top ten list. Eventually the algorithm drops the topics off of the list as their breaking status begins to fade.
Trending hashtags on Twitter can tell a lot about what most people in the social network’s markets are thinking and talking about—if spammers haven’t managed to manipulate them. Last week Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) guru Gene Munster said Apple products were at the top of the Twitter wish list.