This is not a new subject by a longshot. A quick search of either Bing or Google shows this subject getting coverage as far back as three years ago.
Trending Topics on Twitter are a great way to find out what is buzzing on the social media network and gives you that information at a glance. In fact, Trending Topics have become advertising bonanzas for Twitter as they sell Trending Topics to companies. That paid for Trending Topic puts them at the top of the pile even if the topic is not trending.
What typically occurs when a topic begins to trend the Twitter timeline for that topic or hashtag will then begin to be filled by bots and spam accounts that are tweeting various sundry and unrelated links. There are many types of links being tweeted from malware, porn, products for sale and services being offered. Again, the common theme is that they are completely unrelated to the topic at hand.
I even recently saw some of these bots sending out tweets a week after a certain topic had been trending as well as simply duplicating tweets that were sent out during those trending topic periods. I am not sure of what the benefit of that is but it was certainly happening. Weird to say the least.
It is also possible, based on a past story I read from Andrew Mager of ZDNet, that Twitters own Trending Topics API may in fact be used to find the trending topics. Once discovered the trending topic can be passed to a bot account and then send out the nefarious links with the trending hashtag or term included in the tweet.
Many tech websites were calling for Twitter to fix this issue back in 2009 and beyond however, this issue still exists and it is polluting Trending Topics to a point that makes them unusable. I can filter spam and junk mail out of my email inbox – how about a feature that lets me do the same thing on Twitter?
I will leave the discussion about ridiculous and silly Trending Topics to another post.