Twitter announced in late February that it had started the process of suspending and restricting numerous accounts that posted content promoting U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg.
“We took enforcement action on about 70 accounts, which includes a combination of permanent suspensions and account challenges to verify ownership,” a Twitter spokeswoman told Reuters.
The suspended accounts were part of the social media strategy of former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign. They thought it was an excellent way to create an online following, or if not a genuine one, then at least the appearance of one.
Twitter indicated that the accounts were suspended due to violations of its platform manipulation and spam policy, which prohibits coordination among accounts to amplify or disrupt conversation by using multiple accounts.
The account suspensions focus on pro-Bloomberg posts pushing out identical messages. According to the Times, some tweets included “A President is Born: Barbra Streisand sings Mike’s praises,” as part of the body of the message. The problem is that it is in violation of Twitter’s rules to “artificially amplify or disrupt conversation through the use of multiple accounts” or compensating people to boost messages, “even if the people involved use only one account.”
“We ask that all of our deputy field organizers identify themselves as working on behalf of the Mike Bloomberg 2020 campaign on their social media accounts,” said Sabrina Singh, a Bloomberg campaign spokeswoman, adding that content “shared by staffers and volunteers to their network of friends and family” was “not intended to mislead anyone.”
Bloomberg’s campaign has been pouring seemingly endless amounts of money into an online advertising campaign. This includes the hiring of hundreds of digital organizers to support the candidate by posting campaign content on their personal social media channels for Bloomberg.
It was recently reported in the Wall Street Journal that the paid organizers in California receive $2,500 a month in compensation to promote Bloomberg’s presidential candidacy on their own social media networks.
And the issues don’t stop there. Facebook is also considering a response to Bloomberg’s strategy on its platform. A source that is close to the situation told CNBC that the social media website may label content posted by paid campaign organizers due to a recent paid partnership between Bloomberg’s campaign and popular Instagram meme accounts.
In addition, after the Democratic debate in Nevada, Bloomberg tweeted a heavily edited video, which sparked comments calling it misleading. The video will likely be labeled as manipulative after March, when the platform’s new “altered media” rules go into effect.
The ever-changing political do’s and don’ts of social media seem to change almost daily.