Short answer? No.
For starters, Twitter has denied that they’ve blocked “Troy Davis” (or #TroyDavis, or any other variant) from trending. Different topics relating to the story have been trending locally and nationally all day — as I type this, two Davis-related topics are trending in the US, while “Who Is Troy Davis” is trending in NYC and Atlanta, among other places.
So what’s the story? Why isn’t “Troy Davis” trending — or why isn’t it trending more broadly and consistently?
Because Twitter’s trending topics don’t measure Twitter users’ interest in a topic directly. They’re not intended to. I wrote about this in excruciating detail last December, when similar questions were being asked about the failure of the #Wikileaks tag to trend.
You can go read that whole post if you like. But the upshot was this:
Twitter wants trending topics to be novel, and widely tweeted, and tweeted by disparate users. They want their trending topics to be trendy.
They don’t censor terms like “Troy Davis” or “Wikileaks.” They don’t have any policy preventing them from trending. But at the same time, they’re not interested in having any topic like these — an ongoing discussion of a major social or political issue, going through peaks and lulls and times of broader and narrower resonance — make the list.
Twitter’s trending topics aren’t intended to measure what people are interested in. They aren’t intended to measure what people are passionate about. They aren’t intended to measure what people are committed to. They aren’t even intended to measure what people are fascinated by.
They’re intended to measure “Ooh! Shiny!”