The_Donald Claims Twitter Is Artificially Promoting the ‘ImWithHer’ Hashtag
Donald Trump’s biggest fans on Reddit say Twitter is playing favorites in the presidential election.
Image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr
Members of The_Donald, the "high energy" subreddit where Trump supporters exchange racist inside jokes and uncouth memes with each other, are now accusing Twitter of actively promoting Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton over their beloved "God Emperor," Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump.
"BREAKING: Twitter is manipulating their algorithm to falsely create #ImWithHer as trending," one "centipede," as members of the subreddit refer to themselves, claimed earlier on Friday. "There's only 80 total tweets with the hashtag #ImWithHer in the last 1 hour yet it's showing up on the front page. This does not constitute a trend," the user bellowed.
Without a shred of evidence, The_Donald's users proffered several reasons as to why they believe Twitter, which is based in San Francisco, would want to make #ImWithHer, the hashtagged version of one of Clinton's campaign slogans, appear as a trending topic. These reasons include (hold your breath) that California is "infested with SJWs," a derisive term used to refer to people who believe in social equality and justice ("social justice warriors"), and that Twitter is "cucked."
Trump participated in a kid gloves AMA with these people just a few days ago, if you hadn't heard.
At issue here is what does and does not constitute a "trend" as far as Twitter's algorithms are concerned. The company very clearly defines trends as "topics that are popular now, rather than topics that have been popular for a while or on a daily basis." I like to think of this as velocity versus acceleration: Topics that people are frequently talking about at a steady rate (#music or #summer, say) aren't likely to appear as a trending topic, while a subject that's talked about by a large number of people but only for a relatively short amount of time (#DemsinPhilly or, in this case, #ImWithHer) are likely to appear as a trending topic.
Danny Sullivan, the founding editor of Search Engine Land, a publication that closely monitors the online search business, told Motherboard that he's seen "plenty of anti-Clinton hashtags" trending in the past, "so it's hardly a case that Twitter is going out of its way to help her."
The user who made the claims against Twitter did not respond to Motherboard's request for comment. Twitter has not yet responded to Motherboard's request for comment, but has frequently rejected charges of playing favorites with trending topics, going so far as to write a detailed blog post in December 2010 explaining why a series of WikiLeaks-related hashtags didn't trend following the release of several US diplomatic cables ("cablegate").
It should also be noted that, by default, Twitter trends are tailored to users' interests and location: On Monday nights my trending topics typically include a bunch of hashtags from WWE Monday Night Raw, while a football fan is likely to see trending topics related to Monday Night Football.
The accusation that Twitter is unabashedly favoring Clinton over Trump is just the latest in a long list of grievances held by members of The_Donald against large technology companies (including Reddit itself) and the mainstream media.
In early June, members of The_Donald claimed that Google was purposefully preventing the phrase "crooked hillary," an epithet frequently leveled against Clinton by Trump and his acolytes, from appearing in the search engine's autocomplete feature—a charge that was swiftly denied by the Mountain View-based company. Members of The_Donald have also recently claimed that Google was purposefully omitting Trump from search results for the phrase "presidential candidates." (Google said this was a technical error, and Trump now appears first in those search results.) Facebook has also been accused by The_Donald of censoring pro-Trump speech after Gizmodo reported that Facebook was preventing conservative-leaning news topics from appearing in the site's Trending Topics section. The Gizmodo report prompted Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to personally meet with prominent conservatives, including Glenn Beck and S.E. Cupp, to assure them that Facebook was a neutral platform.