Twitter has updated the algorithm behind its popular Trending Topics feature, changing the focus from the most discussed items to what is “most breaking” and “immediately popular.”
Twitter confirmed to Mashable that on Wednesday it made updates to improve the relevancy of trending topics. In the past, trending topics were dominated by consistently popular items (e.g. Justin Bieber) with no regard as to what was “hot” at any given moment.
Here’s how Twitter explained the new changes in an update to the Help section:
“The new algorithm identifies topics that are immediately popular, rather than topics that have been popular for a while or on a daily basis, to help people discover the ‘most breaking’ breaking news from across the world. (We had previously built in this ‘emergent’ algorithm for all local trends, described below.) We think that trending topics which capture the hottest emerging trends and topics of discussion on Twitter are the most interesting.”
Twitter quickly goes on to say that the algorithm is a “work in progress” — a.k.a. it’s not going to weed out every random trending topic or catch all breaking news. The company also makes it clear that the algorithm doesn’t block any topics from trending. This is essentially a response to the countless Justin Bieber fans complaining that Bieber is no longer a trending topic.
The move is a good one, but one the company should have made long ago. The value of trending topics has dropped for many over the last few years. Perhaps this change will make them relevant again.