Did Twitter Really Censor Gaza Flotilla Keywords?

When Israel Navy attacked convoys carrying provisions and supplies for people in Gaza today, Twitter was immediately abuzz with the news of the incident and the hashtag #flotilla immediately started to trend. However, after a few hours, the hashtag #flotilla disappeared from the trending topics despite the issue being discussed by everybody and their grandma.

Many theories exist on what might have happened. The first one obviously includes the preposition that Twitter has censored the topic like it has allegedly done before. However, some other keywords related to the topic like “gaza flotilla” and #freedomflotilla kept trending which is a strong argument against the possibility of Twitter censorship. Users have also suggested that for at least a few hours earlier today, the Twitter searched stopped working for keywords such as flotilla and gaza flotilla. This outage however, is not reported by people throughout the world and is only limited to certain countries like Indonesia.

A post from TechCrunch suggests that Twitter may be taking #Gaza and #Flotilla as part of an old news and hence excluded them from trending topics which sounds like an absurd idea since one would expect a team as intelligent as Twitter’s to factor that in. Plus, if this was true, anything related to Justin Beiber would never trend.

TechCrunch later updated the post with an official Twitter statement:

We are investigating a technical issue that caused search errors for a short period of time this morning. Twitter facilitates the open exchange of information and opinions worldwide so when that is hampered for any amount of time by a bug, we take it very seriously.

There is still no word of what exactly happened today and why the keyword related to the Israel attack stopped trending suddenly. However, with so many theories aboard, users are picking-and-chosing their favorite one while the image of Twitter as an unbiased and free medium of speech gets tarnished. This has also added to an overall increasingly negative image of social media sites since it adds fuel to the privacy and security issues Facebook is already dealing with.

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Tehseen Baweja

Tehseen likes to write about Internet tools that make life easier. Check out his blog at Ijaar.com for more good stuff or follow him on Twitter @tehseenbaweja