Twitter’s Trending Topics area is one of the easiest things to game on the web. Even when trends start out as real items, spammers often latch onto them with bogus tweets hoping to ride the wave and get some people seeing their spammy nonsense. Today, Twitter is acknowledging this.
In a post on its blog, Twitter notes that the “noisiness of the conversation” has led Trends to be less interesting. So beginning today they’re going to be experimenting with ways to surface more relevant tweets in this area. While they don’t come out and say it, the implication here seems pretty clear: They’ll be in some way curating the topics and the tweets. It’s not clear if this will be algorithmic or manual yet.
Actually, Twitter has kind of been doing this with topics for a while. When a spammy topic gets into Trends, Twitter quite often will remove it. But this sentence, “Specifically, we’re working to show higher quality results for trend queries by returning tweets that are more useful,” seems to suggest that it will be curating tweets within trending topics as well. And that it may even in some way rank tweets to show more relevant ones for the topic at hand.
Twitter notes that users may not notice the improvements at first, but soon they will. Their wording is also interesting in that they note that this is about “unearthing more value in search.” Again, that would seem to suggest that Twitter is thinking about the bigger picture of how to rank tweets based on relevancy (not just in Trending Topics). That could be by user authority, which has been a sticky issue in the past.