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.

Published by

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

  • I remember seeing a discussion on this in HN. I certainly don't believe that Twitter censored freedomflotilla tag. Mainly because it doesn't make any sense. They didn't budge during Iran issue, which was also pretty volatile. Moreover, as you said other tags related to the attack showed up in Twitter.

    And in related stuff, shame on Israel.

  • mike

    The reality of the situation is that Israel was always a burden on us.

    Israel has been a burden on us in so many ways other than financial.

    We betray our own values when we side with the murderers simply because the murderers happen to be Israelis.

    Let's take the rights guaranteed by our Constitution. You'll be hard pressed to find a single American who wouldn't give up his or her life to protect those rights. Yet, when Israel deprives the Palestinians of those same God-given rights, we stick our heads in the sand.

    And by so doing, we lose our soul. That is not a financial loss. We should see the light not only because our tax dollars are diverted to a criminal state. We should see the light simply to save our own soul.

    How can we live with ourselves when we have to suspend our conscience every time Israel commits a crime?

    We always end up paying the price for Israel's misbehavior. Is there presently a reason for the world to hate us other than siding with Israel every time it commits a crime? Or fighting Israel's wars from Iraq, to Afghanistan, to Pakistan, to Iran, to God knows where else?

    Sure we can argue that we were not innocent throughout our history. We have committed our own crimes against humanity, but that is no reason to add to that shameful past by committing additional crimes on behalf of Israel.

    When we see our president who's a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate unable to condemn a crime simply because the crime was committed by Israel, don't we deserve to know why?

    Don't we deserve to know why no congressman can criticize Israel without jeopardizing his political career?

    Why do our politicians pay allegiance to Israel and not the US? Can a single congressman criticize the prime minister of Israel with the same ease and immunity with which he can criticize his own President?

    Why is the prime minister of Israel more immune to criticism in our own Congress than our own President?

    Let's ask ourselves those simple questions. The answers are even simpler.

    Don't we deserve to salvage our own humanity by being able to tell right from wrong?

    Do we need Israel's permission to save our own soul