Top Twitter trends in 2010 include oil spill, Bieber and vuvuzela

trending tweets

The world is addicted to Twitter: the information site counted 25 billion tweets in 2010. Image: CC carrotcreative/Flickr

Twitter released its list of its top trends for 2010 on Monday. “Gulf oil spill” topped the list of topics that provide a snapshot of what the world was most interested in over the past year. Twitter claims its 2010 Trends on Twitter report validates its leadership as the real-time information network.

Twitter’s top trending tweets

The top Twitter tweets of 2010 include expected subjects, such as the Gulf oil spill, Justin Bieber and the Apple iPad. The 2010 Trends on Twitter, compiled from 25 billion 2010 tweets, include eight categories: news, people, movies, television, technology, world cup, sports and hashtags. After the gulf oil spill, “FIFA World Cup” was the runner up as the overall top trend. Even Lady Gaga couldn’t keep Bieber from topping the people list. She was listed third, behind Dilma Rouseff and ahead of Julian Assange. The iPad topped the technology list and “Inception” topped the movie list. On the World Cup list, Paul the Octopus was edged out by the ubiquitous, annoying vuvuzela.

How Twitter trends are identified

Twitter said on a blog post that Twitter trends favor novelty over popularity. Twitter trends are generated automatically by an algorithm calculated to single out topics with which the number of tweets is dramatically increasing at a given moment. This approach is said to identify hot topics as they emerge, instead of simply listing what is most popular. On rare occasions a topic that shows up on Google trends doesn’t make it to Twitter trends because the number of tweets doesn’t accelerate quickly enough. This happened last week with WikiLeaks, leading some bloggers to accuse Twitter of censoring trending tweets. However, “WikiLeaks Cablegate” made number seven in the top 10 trending news tweets for 2010.

Twitter tweets exploded in 2010

Twitter tweets increased more than 200 percent, from 8 billion in 2009 to 25 billion in 2010. In 2008, Twitter counted 400 million tweets. Since Twitter was founded in 2006 the site has amassed 190 million tweeters. Twitter started listing trending topics in 2008. Until this year, Twitter trends were only available in New York City, Washington, D.C., and a few other major U.S. cities. This year Twitter expanded the service to include tweets from six additional cities and 13 countries.

The Top 10 Twitter Trends Overall in 2010

1. Gulf Oil Spill
2. FIFA World Cup
3. Inception
4. Haiti Earthquake
5. Vuvuzela
6. Apple iPad
7. Google Android
8. Justin Bieber
9. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows


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