Top Twitter Trend for 2010: No, It Wasn’t Justin Bieber

The year isn’t quite over yet, but Twitter has already come out with the top trending topics for 2010, and surprisingly enough Justin Bieber — the guy who is so popular that Twitter had to modify the way it calculates trending topics — did not take the top slot. That went to the Gulf oil spill. Soccer and movies were also top discussion topics, relegating Mr. Bieber to the number eight spot on Twitter’s list (although he did get number one on the people-related trend list). The numbers came from Twitter’s analysis of more than 25 billion tweets sent during the year.

Trending topics have been a somewhat controversial issue for Twitter over the past week or so, with a number of users accusing the company of censoring its trends to keep WikiLeaks from being a top discussion topic. Twitter eventually posted an explanation of how it arrives at the top trends, noting the feature is designed to show topics that are being discussed more than they have been previously — in other words, if Bieber discussion is hot and heavy for days at a time, then that becomes the benchmark and it will not become a trending topic until it goes above that level.

The top-trending lists are part of Twitter’s “Year In Review” series, which started last week with a list of the top new Twitter users who joined the service during the past year, a list that included late-night TV host Conan O’Brien, Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates and His Holiness, the Dalai Lama (among the other royalty who joined this year were Queen Noor of Jordan and Cher). According to the Year In Review page, there are at least three more features coming from Twitter.

While the Gulf oil spill took the top slot overall, with World Cup soccer and the movie Inception next on the list, Twitter also broke its trends down by category, with Bieber taking the people-focused top slot (followed by Dilma Rousseff, the president-elect of Brazil, Lady Gaga and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange). On the top movie-trend list, Inception was followed by Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (the latter of which was a promoted trend, as CNET notes), and the sports list was topped by Lebron James and Wimbledon. Twitter also recorded the top hashtags, which included #rememberwhen, #slapyourself and #confessiontime.

One interesting thing about Twitter’s trending topic lists is just how global they are, and how political and other figures are mixed in with celebrities like Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga. In addition to the president-elect of Brazil showing up in the people list, others who trended included Zilda Arns, a pediatrician and aid worker who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and died as a result of the earthquake in Haiti, and news events that trended included the Pakistan floods, and a public revolt in Venezuela known as Chavez Tas Ponchao.

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