Why Won’t Twitter Let #JewishRapNames Trend?

February 25th, 2010 |

About

Paul Cantor has written for MTV.com, XXL, Vibe, Complex and Allhiphop.com, among others. He's the former Technology Editor of Scratch Magazine and now divides his day into thirds, spending time writing, making music, and working out in the gym. You can follow him on Twitter, but you'll have to track his hashtags at Jewish Rap Names since Twitter won't let them trend.

Twitter is antisemitic. At least that’s what I thought this past weekend, when #jewishrapnames, a random hashtag I started using early Saturday morning, blew up all over the 140 character micro-messaging service hours later. I began a series of tweets around 3am Saturday morning. The first one was “50 Schpent #jewishrapnames.” What followed were a few more tweets from myself and followers. In all, perhaps 50 names were tweeted with the tag. I thought nothing of it and by 5am was fast asleep. But when I woke up in the afternoon on Saturday, I saw a few @ replies from people who normally never reply to me, and thought maybe I was onto something.

Around 8pm on Saturday night, I started sending #jewishrapnames tweets into the Twitterverse again. The same core group of followers from the night before began adding and retweeting them. Within an hour, a Twitter search for #jewishrapnames yielded many results. It seemed as if just sitting on the search page would show that there were roughly 10 tweets coming in per minute. Not enough for a trending topic, right? At this point I decided to keep going and kept tweeting, realizing the hashtag was catching on. Another hour passed and after @SamanthaRonson got in on the act, her one million+ followers all joined in. At that point, it seemed as if there were tweets coming in every second.

By midnight Saturday, the real time results from Trends Map was showing #jewishrapnames trending in New York City, San Francisco, and globally in a few different countries. Suffice it to say, I wasn’t able to take a screenshot of where it was trending at the time (silly me), so the real time results are a little sketchy as of now. But a Twitter search will still yield over 100 pages of results. That’s a lot of tweets. Is it enough to become a trending topic? Perhaps.

My timeline was inundated with #jewishrapnames tweets. In fact, the entire night, there was nary a tweet from anyone having to do with anything else. I could see that the hashtag was trending in NYC, but by 1:30am Sunday morning, it was gone. Why? The search feed on the Jewish Rap Names website was still showing hundreds of tweets coming in by the minute.

Then I got to thinking, I’d never really seen anything religion or God-driven subject in the twitter trending topics. Was Twitter blocking #jewishrapnames because it had the word Jewish in it? My research turned up the fact that last October, the hashtag “No God” became a trending topic behind atheists’ efforts to mobilize on Twitter. Still, I’m not so sure that I’d need an army of Jewish supporters to make #jewishrapnames trend. Why it disappeared from twitter, and why it didn’t at least trend worldwide during its peak around 1am Saturday night is still beyond me. Could it be an antisemitic force at work? Perhaps it’s the same force that keeps @Jesus_M_Christ‘s #JesusAfterDark from trending. Are religious topics allowed as long as they cannot be misconstrued as inflammatory? I guess we’ll know the real answer when #ShabbatShalom starts picking up steam.

Editor’s note: Official requests from Twitter for information regarding trending topics/hashtag rules went unanswered.
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Paul Cantor