Twitter’s War on Conservatives

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Twitter has become not only a part of our everyday life, but a part of our everyday nomenclature. Nary has a day gone by since the inception of Twitter in March of 2006 that we don’t utter words such as, tweet, trend, favorite, and hashtag. But it’s the last one, “hashtag” that has garnered potentially the most attention over the last few years. From automobile commercials, to movies, to witty alliterations, the former “pound sign” can be found at every turn; not to mention across multiple social media platforms. The intent being to drum up support and open a broad dialog about a specific item with the hopes of having it “trend”, either locally or worldwide. In an age where “going viral” is considered a success, and not a reason to get the flu shot, it begs the question who is in charge of determining successes and failures in the Twitterverse? Over the last two weeks, Twitter has been seemingly playing doctor by administering antibiotics to conservative hashtags in order to prevent them from “going viral”.

It’s no secret that the country has been going through a transformational shift. The voices on the left have becoming increasingly drowned out by those on the right. Liberal networks such as MSNBC and CNN are in a rapid decline, and this week we learned that Aljazeera America will be closing its doors in April. Just to add a little more salt to the wound, the Fox News Network continues to pile on ratings even though many of their hosts appear to show contempt for the Republican frontrunner. In a converse sort of way, the shift is very reminiscent of the months leading up to the 2008 Presidential election.

A recently released Gallup Poll estimates that 29% of registered voters self-identify as Democrats, down from an estimated 36% at the height of Obamamania in 2008. In addition, these recent polling numbers even suggest a decline from 2014, a year that served Republicans in congress very well. In other words, it’s not looking good for the party of the White House incumbent.

However, with the majority of mainstream media outlets still leaning left, the conservative movement has turned to social media platforms, such as Twitter, to spread their message. Despite the left’s success with utilizing social media in the past, it has been the grassroots conservatives that have begun to swing the pendulum in their favor. With hashtag such as the grassroots #RedNationRising and #WakeUpAmerica, associated with Fox News host Eric Bolling, the conservatives on Twitter are logging billions of impressions a months. Yes billions. Yet, with all of their popularity, these hashtags seem to be intermittently disappearing from the auto-fill function on Twitter. And they aren’t the only ones. #TCOT (Top Conservatives On Twitter), #CCOT (Christian Conservatives On Twitter), and #PJNET (Patriot Journalists Network) have all suffered from similar, yet less extensive, “blackouts”.

 

Since the inception of Red Nation Rising in 2012, they have logged over 20 billion impressions on Twitter alone, according to analytics from Twitter and third party services including Hashtracking, Tweetreach and Patriot Journalist Network. That number includes one billion in December of 2015 and over 750 million Twitter Impressions since January 1st of this year. Their presence has become so popular that many states have their own affiliated Twitter accounts operated by volunteers; truly an organic, grassroots movement. However, unlike most social media movements, Red Nation Rising   has actual business concerns too, which makes the apparent “blackouts” even more concerning. In a time when social media presence is so critical to small businesses, imagine how damning it could be to your own business if one of the world’s largest social media platforms decided it didn’t like the way you ran your company. According to its founder, Jim Lysaght, Red Nation Rising has always operated within the framework of Twitter’s Terms & Conditions, takes great pride in being good Twitter citizens, and will continue to do so.

Eric Bolling has also voiced his concern about the auto-fill issue on Twitter. Wondering how his hashtag could be so wildly popular yet not populating in the search bar when it is being typed in by a user. Even mentioning that Twitter named #WakeUpAmerica one of the top 10 political hashtags in 2015. Bolling has thanked Twitter for correcting the issue on a few occasions even though it seems to keep happening.

While the outages started off as being intermittent, they seem to be happening more and more often throughout the first two weeks of January. Some have even surmised that Twitter is showing a bias towards conservative hashtags just as the first caucuses and primaries of the 2016 election cycle draw closer and the overall political winds have shifted to the right.

Could this be Twitter’s attempt at political engineering or even a conservative gag-order of sorts? Perhaps an ideologue rogue employee? Maybe it’s Twitter’s subtle way of telling us that as a society our thumbs have become obese and they could use some more exercise? Or is it just a “glitch” in one of their complicated algorithms? The fact of the matter is, we just don’t know because they have not responded to inquiries, like those from Red Nation Rising, to explain the issue and how they will work to resolve it. So until that time, conservatives can take solace in the fact that Twitter’s stock is in freefall and good conservatives like Ronald Reagan were elected way before most Twitter employees were even born, and they will continue to be elected long after Twitter “trends” its way onto the pink sheets.

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