As I write this late Friday morning, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami have effectively taken over Twitter's Trending Topics list, including the hashtag meme "#prayforjapan," "Fukushima" (Japan has declared a "nuclear emergency" at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant north of Tokyo) and "Text REDCROSS." (Per the American Red Cross, "Customers of participating wireless carriers can text REDCROSS to 9-0-9-9-9 to make a $10 donation to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund," which is mobilizing to help Japan. But that only works in the U.S., apparently.)
Also trending for awhile this morning: "Godzilla." But not, it turns out, because everyone on Twitter was making tasteless Godzilla jokes in response to scenes of devastation in Japan. It would appear that some Twitterers, inevitably, did, which prompted plenty of outrage (e.g., from Twitter user @thatlimabean: "I've already seen and heard far too many Godzilla jokes. If I could reach through this computer and punch people in the throat, I would"). Widespread complaining on Twitter about Godzilla jokes, of course, just helped "Godzilla" surge into the Trending Topics list. And at the moment, Twitter's search engine is showing that the most-retweeted recent tweet mentioning Godzilla is from @maudnewton, literary blogger Maud Newton (full disclosure: years ago I hired her to do a bit of consulting for a media startup I was running), who wrote: "For news of the disaster, you might prefer streaming Al-Jazeera to watching CNN anchor giggle about Godzilla." She then linked to a post by blog pioneer Jason Kottke titled "Al-Jazeera's Coverage of the Japanese Earthquake," in which he wrote,
If you haven't already heard, Al-Jazeera had (and continues to have) some of the best coverage of earthquake and tsunami in Japan ... Contrast with CNN, which was apparently home to giggles and Godzilla jokes as the quake was being reported. In the last three or four big events in the world, Al-Jazeera has had the best coverage ... is this a changing of the guard?
Kottke linked to an outraged tweet from @somebadideas: "Fuck you @CNN your anchor is giggling & talking about monster movies while you're showing waves sweep entire homes away." But no one on Twitter (or YouTube, for that matter) seems to have a link to video of the alleged CNN lapse in judgement. Here's Twitterer @owls_mcgee: "Anyone know if a CNN anchor made a Godzilla joke while showing pictures of people running for their lives? Or was that just Twittersteria?"
I have to say, it's strange to see the Twittersphere shift to a moralistic mood, especially given what was trending during the past seven days. Our weekly Top 10 Trending Topics on Twitter chart -- produced, as always, with our editorial partner What the Trend -- cuts off at midnight Thursday night; the devastation in Japan will almost certainly dominate the Twitter conversation for days, if not weeks and months, to come. But for the seven-day period that just ended, our chart is topped by, yes, a certain unemployed sitcom actor and is closed out by -- I'm not kidding you -- the hashtag meme #ChangeLoveToLubeSongs, in which the Twittersphere amused itself by tweeting song titles with the word "love" changed to "lube" (e.g., "Can You Feel the Lube Tonight"). Speaking of words, I'm suddenly at a loss for them, so without further ado, here's the complete chart:
|Trend||Peak Position This Week||Points||Crowdsourced Description|
|1||Charlie Sheen||3||7,622||Users are retweeting messages from the real as well as fake CharIie Sheen accounts. They are also talking about Sheen's Saturday night Ustream webcast.|
|2||Carnival||2||4,075||Carnival was celebrated in many countries around the world but most trends are originating from Brazil. Carnival was marked by parties and parades sponsored by Samba schools, which are broadcast on Brazilian TV.|
|3||#DealWithIt||2||3,858||Users are stating things that other people need to deal with.|
|4||#BlackPeopleMovies||2||3,770||People are offering humorous twists on movie titles. Many users are retweeting jokes from Katt Williams and a fake Charlie Sheen account. Others found this hashtag offensive.
Subtrends include: #blackpeoplemovies, Frying Nemo, Shaniqua, Legally Blonde Starring
|5||International Women's Day||1||3,000||Users in many different countries marked the 102th anniversary of International Women's Day on March 8, 2011.|
|6||Harry Potter Series||1||2,973||Harry Potter-related trends began to chart on the weekend when "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" was aired on Indonesia Trans TV. This was followed by a debate between Harry Potter and Twilight fans about which book/movie series was superior.|
|7||Fraternity/Sorority LIfe||1||2,940||Many of the nine historically black fraternities and sororities hit Twitter's Trending Topics this week.|
|8||Notorious B.I.G.||1||2,903||March 9th was the 14th anniversary of the murder of The Notorious B.I.G. (Christopher Wallace). His murder is still unsolved. People remembered B.I.G. and his music this week.
Subtrends include: #biggieday, Christopher Wallace, Notorious Thugs, Dead Wrong, Everyday Struggle, Life After Death
|9||#ThatAintWinning||1||2,650||Things & people that aren't winning.|
|10||#ChangeLoveToLubeSongs||1||2,512||People are tweeting alternative song titles where the word 'love' is changed to 'lube.'|
1. WTT tracks the appearance of topics on the Twitter Trending Topics list and each week ranks the subjects with the most cumulative staying power. Explanations of trends are solicited from WTT users, Wikipedia-style; a community-voting system is designed to highlight the best explanations while burying lame or prank explanations.
2. For the purposes of this chart, we collect and process data until 12 midnight EST on Thursday night before each Friday's publication.
3. Ad Age works with WTT to consolidate multiple threads of chatter into one position on the chart when it's clear related Twitter conversations are basically all about the same topic, even if they use different keywords.
4. In WTT's proprietary trend-tracking system, points are awarded for both duration and rank in the top 10 trending topics on Twitter. The longer the duration, and the higher the overall rank, the more points are awarded. Measurements are taken in five-minute increments.
5. The crowdsourced trend explanations above are quoted as they appear on WTT, and therefore may have stylistic and grammatical quirks that don't adhere to normal Ad Age editorial standards.
For more information about What the Trend, visit the WTT FAQ. And check out WTT's Week in Review, compiled by its in-house editors and covering an expanded general list of Top 20 trends (including hashtag trends) here.
Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.