Sunday, June 6, 2010

Twitter Censorship? Not Good News.

(See BIG updates on this story at bottom)

Is Twitter guilty of censorship and Algorithmic Propaganda? Have they stepped over the line and gotten themselves involved with taking sides in political turmoil? Are they just another tool in the government's arsenal of propaganda? Is the new doll of Social Media and marketing, Twitter, guilty of censoring topics that make them and their stock-holders feel uncomfortable? Could Twitter be the newest member of the American Military-Industrial Complex? (Wow! Pretty sensational stuff, eh?) 

Let's hope not... But, I hate to say, this doesn't look too good for Twitter. Read on and you decide.

There's trouble brewing in Twitter-land, my friends...The word on the Blogosphere is that Twitter was censoring the #flotilla hashtag during the Israeli raids on May 31 on the ships that were heading to Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid.

At any given time, on the Twitter sidebar, one can see what is trending. At one point during the raids,   the #flotilla hashtag or information pertaining to  "Deaths on Convoys" (etc.) were ranking in the top. Then suddenly, as soon as they shot to the top, they were gone; these topics were completely "disappeared."

After their disappearance, if you searched for the #flotilla hashtag you got a result saying, "Twitter error." This was highly suspicious and, I suspect, the catalyst for many thinking that Twitter was censoring the #flotilla hashtag because most of the Tweets were critical of Israel.

Now, when I say that Twitter might be guilty of manipulation and censorship, don't think that I am talking out of my hat. Already, twice in the past, Twitter has freely admitted to manipulating the trending sidebar. Once, during the Iran elections, after a call from the US State Department (when a revolution was supposedly going on when there wasn't one at all), Twitter voluntarily "disappeared" information from Iran and "#iranelections" in particular.

The second time that Twitter intentionally disappeared something was Justin Bieber. Laughable, but true. Yes, it's ridiculous, but Twitter did this. As many of you might know, Justin is an international teenage star. So when Justin was trending at the top, day-in and day-out, the management of Twitter decided that they were tired of seeing Justin Bieber's name at the top of the trending topics so they deleted his topics...

Justin Bieber's photo cunningly placed here just to irritate Twitter management

Yes, I too, would like to see Justin Bieber "disappeared" also (just kidding, of course), but on Twitter? Is that incredibly anal-retentive or what? I'm sure the management of Twitter would have never done this if the top trending artist was someone they personally liked like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones or Barry Manilow.

So, did Twitter manipulate trends during the Israeli attack on the humanitarian mission? They are keeping their mouths shut for now, but this smells bad and the Blogosphere is demanding actions!

But, one thing remains, as can be gleamed from the #iranelections and Justin Bieber stories, is that  Twitter is culpable - as they have freely admitted - to news manipulation. Now the word on the Blogosphere is that Twitter has stepped over the line and is guilty of censorship and playing politics. If so, shame on you Twitter!

I think this does not bode well for the future of Twitter. You saw some of the repercussions to the MSM (Mainstream Media) after news manipulation before, during, and after the Iraq War. I don't think that, in this age of lightening quick communication that a company, like Twitter, can benefit by this sort of Skullduggery.

When Twitter manipulates the Trend-bar on the side, it's exactly the same as how Wall Street manipulates prices and that is criminal... A far better, and much older example, would be the "Memory Hole" down which Winston Smith "disappeared" people and news items in the classic, 1984.

What's next for Twitter? Manipulating and selling their top ranked slots like Billboard Magazine does for its music charts?

Like I said, I am not happy about this information concerning Twitter and think it is an infringement on our rights as a free people. The Internet was supposed to be the media that freed us from the bonds of the old media. If Twitter doesn't change its ways, then this could be the beginning of a long slide and they will lose me as a user....

Losing me as a user doesn't hurt Twitter much at all, but losing me and 100 million other teeny-bopper Justin Bieber fans probably does hurt. And with Twitter pushing very hard in Japan - a country full of apolitical people - I could see how they could need this market more desperately than ever...  Especially if they keep up this censorship in the west and there comes a time when people boycott Twitter or it gets a bad name.

UPDATE! In what could be good news! According to Guardian UK, Twitter did not intentionally censor #flotilla. The Guardian article update states:

So: shock as Twitter not being used to censor news. But it does show the enormous sensitivity there now is about Twitter's impartiality that any suggestion that a world event might be pushed out of its "trending topics" (displayed on the right-hand column of every Twitter user's home page) can create such frustration.

(Admittedly, the Guardian UK is old school MSM and, as such, information from them is to be taken with a grain of salt.)

UPDATE TWO! Yep! Twitter did it! They manipulated the "trending"!

From that article: Twitter’s ‘Trending Topics’ index was manipulated has been confirmed. By manipulating ‘green revolution’ and other # tags to float up the index, Twitter was able to manufacture a #revolution that for the most part, was grossly exaggerated.  Whether or not Twitter simply did this purely for marketing purposes or was hacked by the Pentagon to help sell more weapons has yet to be disclosed.

* If you would like to check daily, weekly or monthly trends on Twitter, go to here: Trendistic 

* From my point of view, as they say, "A picture speaks a thousand words" since Pick is better for photos than Twitter, then Pick looks much better day by day. Pick:

Keywords:  marketing, Social Media, Twitter, Pick, Justin Bieber, George Orwell, 1984, Internet, Japan, censorship, manipulation, market, media, #flotilla, hashtag, Mike Rogers, Marketing Japan, Mike in Tokyo Rogers


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