Why Is Twitter Trending Alton ‘Serling’ Instead Of Sterling?

There’s a strange thing happening on Twitter right now. According to Twitter’s trending section, #AltonSerling has received more than 10,000 tweets. However, as reported by the Inquisitr, the name of the man being shown shot to death in a graphic second video is Alton Sterling, not Alton Serling.

Whereas Sterling’s name does not show up under the Twitter trending section, the tweets about Alton with his name correctly spelled are coming into the social media network site quickly and furiously in the wake of the second video emerging.

In the trending section of Facebook as of this writing, Sterling’s name does not appear yet — neither Serling nor Sterling — but Facebook’s trending section is known to fall behind that of Twitter’s trending section, which tends to more immediately reflect what folks are tweeting about and sharing online.

Facebook does report “Alton Sterling shooting” as a trending search term when one types those words in Facebook’s search engine. The “Alton Sterling shooting video” is reported by Facebook as a popular search phrase, with more than 10,000 people talking about the video as of this writing.

Other variations, such as the shooting of Alton, are reported to have received more than 6,000 people talking about the topic currently. Sterling’s name alone has more than 57,000 people talking about the topic, according to Facebook, with “RIP Alton” wishes garnering more than 17,000 people talking about the topic.

There have been communities set up on Facebook surrounding the shooting death of Alton, but a search for “Alton Serling” does not report that name as a popular topic on Facebook. So, where did Twitter come up with the surname of Serling? That’s a good question for journalists to uncover.

With Facebook being accused by former Facebook employees of manipulating what’s trending, as reported by CBS News, one couldn’t help but wonder if the Sterling versus Serling melee was somehow a typo picked up and carried forth into Twitter — or if something more sinister might be afoot. With “Serling” gaining about 20 tweets to every 140 tweets that “Sterling” gets — with the name Alton Sterling still not showing up in Twitter’s trending section as of this writing — one can’t help but posit the theory that the manipulation of Twitter trending items could be a form of crowd control, albeit online.

To find out the popularity of the #AltonSterling — correctly spelled — hashtag, one would have to actually visit that label on Twitter to see the tweets flooding into the social networking site about Sterling. If one happened upon Twitter without specifically visiting that hashtag, they could see the Serling name trending, but not experience anywhere near the flow of tweets coming into the social networking site as the correctly spelled Sterling name is getting. Which also begs the question: If Sterling’s correct name is getting many more tweets than the incorrectly spelled Serling name, why isn’t #AltonSterling listed under the Twitter trending section?


Even changing one’s location on Twitter to “Baton Rouge Trends,” which would seemingly focus on Sterling, doesn’t result in Alton’s name appearing at all. However, the related searches on Twitter — when one views the “Serling” incorrectly spelled hashtag — result in correctly spelled Sterling searches that find folks coupling Alton’s name with everything from President Obama to searches for the full video, to claims that Sterling was a convicted pedophile.

According to Heavy, Alton was a registered sex offender. Certain reactions to the shooting can be read below.

“God shape our hurt and compassion in a way that drives us to respond Effectively and not Recklessly

“So was a convicted paedophile. As disgusting as that is, Cop’s brutal cold-blooded shooting is not justified or excused.”

[Photo by Gerald Herbert/AP Images]