Republican Markeece Young says the Hillary Clinton campaign paid Twitter to squelch his hashtag, #WhyImNotVotingforHillary.
Although it is less than certain if this is the case, one thing is for sure — the Clinton campaign shelled out a big chunk of change to get her hashtag to trend on the uber popular microblogging social media site.
CNN anchor Brian Stetler highlighted the inability of the Clinton hashtag to trend higher than Young’s.
“And it got worse. 2 hours later the most popular hashtags on Twitter were #WhyImNotVotingForHillary — which mocked her campaign ad — and #GameofThrones, with #Hillary2016 an embarrassing 3rd,” writes Gina Cassini for Top Right News.
Twitter claims it does not censor tweets. “There’s no system expressly designed to censor communication between individuals,” a former Twitter engineer told The Verge in November.
Twitter, however, has blocked tweets it considers harassment, specially along the lines of gender and race, but has yet to block or remove tweets criticizing political candidates in the United States.
Twitter offers what it calls “promoted trends,” that is to say jacking up hashtag trending status to partners who have the money.
“Promoted Trends are a perfect way to kickstart a conversation, launch new products, run major campaigns or target key dates to drive mass awareness,” the Twitter business website explains.
Hillary Clinton, of course, is not a brand of caffè latte. Artificial trending skews the political debate and makes it appear she is more popular than she actually is.
If a critic’s hashtag was indeed removed, this represents a dangerous development in social media, which now plays an instrumental role in political campaigns.